Mara Naboisho took the Gold at the African Responsible Tourism Awards for 2016 last week.
Two summers ago, we had incredible fun collaborating with James Boyce, Grant Richards, Mangesh Hattikudur and others to create a new brand strategy and positioning for Mara Naboisho, located in the amazing Maasai Mara region of Kenya.
The award was not only for our strategy, branding and public relations collaboration, but for the way that Mara Naboisho itself “remarkably brings together community and wildlife conservation to make better places to live in and great places to visit.”
What you may not know, is that conservancies like Mara Naboisho are the only way for human beings to protect Africa’s native species in the modern age. Conservancies rent tens of thousands of tribal acres from the native Maasai, so that the lands where elephants, zebras, Cape buffalo, antelope (and so many other species) graze, do not become pastures for Maasai goats and cattle.
This is a complicated economic ecosystem powered by tourism dollars. When you visit Africa (and if you can, you should) your dollars actually contribute to the livelihood and welfare of indigenous African species.
It might be difficult for modern minds to capture an image of the importance of these efforts. So imagine this fragment, “[We] strolled out to the top of the heights in the fork of these rivers, from whence we had an extensive and most enchanting view. The country, in every direction around us, was one vast plain in which innumerable herds of buffalo were seen, attended by their shepherds, the wolves. The solitary antelope, which now had their young, were distributed over its face. Some herds of elk were also seen. The verdure perfectly clothed the ground. The weather was pleasant and fair.”
This is not a modern day tale, but a paragraph extracted from the journals of famous American explorers Lewis and Clark. The piece was written on June 3, 1805, standing along the Musselshell River in Montana, which these days is only a fragment of its glorious past.
Last summer, we visited Mara Naboisho and stayed in camp. We watched herds of giraffes pass our tent. We heard hyenas whining in the night. We stood in a valley that we proclaimed was “Eden” as herds of antelope, zebras, giraffes, baboons, gazelles and other creatures coexisted in small groups throughout the valley.
We wondered what it must have been like to see the same abundance spread across the American plains, and sighed.
We are thrilled to help protect African wildlife, while everyone still can. Sure, it’s easy to say that we have our own problems to solve at home (and we do). But some of us can do both. So we do.