USAID Supported Conservation Project Unleashes Teacher’s Passion

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For 5 years, Johnson Soit has been teaching at a local primary school in the Maasai Mara relishing his role in a career he has cherished since his childhood.

Then in November 2015, he was elected to Chair the Pardmat Conservation Area Committee, a responsibility that would see him become the head of 850 community land owners who have come together to conserve a critical area in the central greater Maasai Mara.

“We are here because of our commitment to work together to protect this vital piece of land,” stated Johnson in late December 2016 as he led 58 land owners in the signing of land leases totaling 5,000 acres; an event he describes as a milestone in the history of the Pardamat area. He added: “we believe Pardamat will become suitable for wildlife and our pastoral lifestyle living together. By stopping the fragmentation and fencing, opening up migration routes which, will in turn, reduce human wildlife conflict that has been rampant in the recent past.”

Pardamat area is important to the wellbeing of the greater Mara ecosystem. It has critical wildlife corridors, serves as a migration route from the Loita plains and connects the Mara Triangle and Maasai Mara National Reserve to four other established conservancies. Importantly, it is a key area in the Mara landscape with saltlicks in addition to its hilly forested terrain cherished by elephants for the vegetation.

As a resident and a teacher of science, Johnson comprehends the reality of reducing wildlife numbers and how the Pardamat area, like most parts of the Maasai Mara, has been altered by changes in land use practices and weather patterns. He is excited that beyond his dream teaching career, the USAID Kenya & East Africa supported Pardamat Conservation Area project, has presented him an opportunity to contribute to efforts to tackle the changing and escalating land-use practices, which seriously threaten the long-term viability of the greater Maasai Mara.

“My passion is to champion community conservation initiatives and inspire and nurture the younger generation I teach to protect their natural surroundings and be tolerant of the wildlife and the space we have shared for hundreds of years,” Johnson says in a silvery tone.

Securing the Pardamat area is a key priority for the USAID supported project being implemented by the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA). The project seeks to help landowners and community members establish a wildlife conservation area through identifying and opening critical wildlife corridors and migration routes. Moreover, the project will see a cattle rangeland established for a community cattle enterprise to supplement income from direct land leases in addition to other benefits such as provision of predator proof bomas to reduce loss of livestock to predators.

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