A Community-Led Model
We are partners with the Kenyan grassroots nonprofit Friends of Maasai Mara (FOMM). Based in the village of Talek, on the edge of the Maasai Mara National Reserve, FOMM believes that for conservation in Africa to be successful over the long term, solutions must come from the communities who live with the wildlife. We share their passion about this, and our goal is to contribute to their important work. FOMM has been leading community-based conservation in the Mara since early 2012, drawing on their local wisdom and philosophy of coexistence.
Engaging Young Hearts & Minds
FOMM focuses on motivating the next generation to become ecosystem leaders, by running wildlife education programs at schools and taking students out into the preserves to witness wildlife firsthand. For many of these students, without this opportunity they would not have this deep knowledge and direct experience, as wildlife is not part of their everyday life and "modern" curriculum. The children of today will determine the fate of entire ecosystems tomorrow.
We held a Gala for FOMM in California to purchase a vehicle and other supplies for their educational work. We have also provided media and technical support, and built connections in the U.S. to help their organization grow. Our current project in the Talek area is a library and related programs for Mara Girls Leadership School, which has a conservation component and will partner with FOMM on a Wildlife Club.
A Conservation Center for the Maasai Mara
FOMM's long-term vision is to create the Mara Conservation Center, to be a hub for students, educators, conservationists, visitors, and community. This Center will include nature and cultural exhibits, an amphitheater, a library, a video production studio, and meeting and learning spaces. People from all over the region will use this facility for knowledge sharing and education. This is a historic opportunity, as there is currently NO public conservation and education gathering space like this anywhere in the region.
In 2017, FOMM found a spectacular 10-acre parcel of land for the Conservation Center just outside the village of Talek, on the Talek River across from the Maasai Mara National Reserve and a stone's throw from all the community-owned conservancies (see where). FOMM purchased this site in 2018 from a local family. This strategic location is less than a kilometer from one of the main gates to the Reserve and near many Maasai-owned community conservancies, making it easily accessible to visitors who come here from all over the world, as well as for the local community. The deep local knowledge, perfect spot of land, acknowledged need, and community support are all there.
We helped FOMM with early planning for this Center, and we helped them find donors in the U.S. to purchase the land. Once it comes together, we will help with educational development.
Site of the future Mara Conservation Center
With appreciation to Sam Andre for this beautiful drone footage!
Meet Amos, Prince & John from FOMM
Why Talek Is Strategic for Conservation
The Maasai Mara ecosystem is home to 25% of Kenya's wildlife, with over 90 mammal species and unparalleled bird habitats. 70% of this wildlife lives outside the National Reserve, in conservancy lands owned by local communities. The village of Talek is at the center of this wildlife-rich area, right between a main gate to the Reserve and the community-owned conservancies.