SANCTUARY

Olare Motorogi a safe haven for big cats

In Summary

• Two conservancies, Olare Morok and Olare Motorogi merged to form Olare Motorogi Conservancy.

• The conservancy was established in partnership with the local people, who agreed to lease the land covering an area of 33,000 acres to the pioneers.

A lioness plays with her cub
A lioness plays with her cub
Image: Elizabeth Ngigi

Want to see the Big five any day? Make a trip to Olare Motorogi Conservancy (salty area).

It is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Kenya, situated next to the Masai Mara National Reserve and home to numerous wildlife species.

 

Two conservancies, Olare Morok and Olare Motorogi merged to form Olare Motorogi Conservancy. The conservancy was established in partnership with the local people, who agreed to lease the land covering an area of 33,000 acres to the pioneers. Some 77 landowners moved away to pave way for conservation.

Head Guide Philip Muchaba
Head Guide Philip Muchaba
Image: Elizabeth Ngigi
 

The residents, who are Maasais, are paid annually depending on the size of land that each gave out. Thanks to this partnership, poaching in the conservancy is rare. Sometimes, wild animals move from the Mara to Olare Motorogi.

Head guide Philip Muchaba told the Star the conservancy has five camps: Olare Mara Kempinski, Porini Lion Camp, Mara Plains, Kicheche Bush Camp and Virgin Mahari Mzuri; all of which are under one management.

Buffalos resting at Olare Motorogi conservancy
Buffalos resting at Olare Motorogi conservancy
Image: Elizabeth Ngigi

"A certain percentage of the revenue earned by each camp is paid to the management. In return, the management pays the local people who leased their land," he said.

Muchaba said the pioneers found it important to involve residents in the management of the conservancy and have recruited a local Maasai, Charles Leruso, as one of the managers.

Besides the annual pay landowners receive, residents are allowed to graze their livestock in the conservancy and some are employed in the camps. The grazing is controlled and game rangers have to be around when the residents bring their herds. Residents are discouraged from grazing in areas where the big cats are found, as well as from burning grass. 

Crested bird
Crested bird
Image: Elizabeth Ngigi

The water in and around the conservancy is very salty, which makes it attractive to animals. The conservancy restricts the number of tents pitched in each camp to 12.

Only five vehicles are allowed on major sites at any given time. This helps to regulate the number of visitors, causing minimal disturbance to the animals. The big cats, especially, love the conservancy because of the relative peace it offers.
 

Minimising the number of tents and guests also enables the conservancy to maintain high-quality services. The conservancy has strict rules and respectable guides. The rule on the number of vehicles is, however, relaxed on hunting grounds.

 

But drivers are required to keep a distance of around 100 metres from the animals. Minimising the number of vehicles also makes it a safe haven for professional photographers.

A leopard at the conservancy
A leopard at the conservancy
Image: Elizabeth Ngigi

Some of the animals found in the conservancy include elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, gazelles, wildebeests and giraffes. Hippos can be found in River Ntiakitiak, which runs through the conservancy, all year round.

There is no electric fence around the conservancy camps, which allows the animals to move freely.

The number of wildebeests in the conservancy has been increasing recently, providing enough food for the big cats. Birds include fish eagles and black-chested snake eagles, among others.