Photograph by Marcus Westberg
Where: Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya
Grantee: Anne Kent Taylor
Kenyan Anne Kent Taylor fell in love with the Mara as a young girl. Driven by her deep attachment to this beautiful place, she has spent four decades trying to preserve this natural treasure.
The Anne K. Taylor Fund (AKTF) is a Kenya-based nonprofit organization that works to promote wildlife conservation in the communities surrounding Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Reserve. The Maasai Mara holds special environmental and cultural significance for the people of Kenya.
Video courtesy Anne Kent Taylor Fund
However, shifts in the demographics and economy of Kenya have begun to change the delicate balance of man and wildlife in the Mara. More people mean larger cities; growing small towns; more farms to produce food; bigger, paved roads; and fewer spaces for wildlife. Maasai communities living adjacent to the Mara find themselves squeezed between a fast-moving economy and shrinking wilderness areas that bring predators closer to their homes than ever before.
These predators present a threat to farmers’ livelihoods. When lions take cattle, farmers retaliate, and lions are killed. AKTF aims to stop this conflict by helping Maasai communities keep their cattle out of the reach of lions. Saving livestock saves lions.
To achieve this, AKTF fortifies Maasai livestock enclosures with simply constructed chain-link fences and treated posts (provided by Eden Wildlife Trust), which are sustainably sourced.
This extra protection deters predators from entering the bomas and killing the livestock. Maasai livestock owners partner with AKTF by sharing costs and installing the fences. The Maasai are thus fully invested in, and supportive of, the project.
In addition to building predator-proof fences, AKTF provides wildlife education; operates anti-poaching patrols in conjunction with the Mara Conservancy and Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS); helps Maasai families implement sustainable energy practices; and participates in wildlife rescues.
AKTF also works to empower the Maasai community through a women’s beadwork microfinance program; through capacity-building education efforts, including field trips into the Mara Reserve; and by the construction of a primary school where the program provides water tanks and a free, nutritious lunch to students, who walk up to ten miles to and from school each day.
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