TTWCA Partners with SNV to help conservancies use land sustainably

Taita Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Association (TTWCA) recently partnered with SNV to help three conservancies come up with wildlife and grazing management plans. The six-month project, called Development of Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (Desira), began in December 2021 at a cost of KSh3 million. Its main objective is to contribute to climate-relevant, productive and sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems in low and middle-income countries.

The initiative supports the development of a wildlife management plan for Maungu Ranch and grazing management plans for the Kasigau and Mgeno Wildlife Conservancies. This will help TTWCA fulfill its mandate of developing wildlife conservancies and ensuring sustainable conservation practices.

Upon completion, the wildlife management plan will offer Maungu Ranch a roadmap for exploring potential opportunities, such as livestock breeding, international beef commerce, tourism, and academic research, resulting in diversified revenue streams for community benefit. 

During the stakeholders’ meeting for establishing the Maungu management plan representatives from; KWS, County Government of Taita Taveta, AWF, WWF, Nature Kenya, MAZIDO, Taita Taveta University and Kenya Police were part and parcel of the forum. TTWCA Chairman Donald Mcharo complimented the board for taking a bold step toward conservation. He said the importance of the final document lies in its effective and efficient execution. “As a board, keeping the function of policymaking and employing the qualified professionals in the management to implement it is critical and will determine your success,” he added.

KWS warden Stephen Kuseren told the forum that Taita Taveta ranches’ rate of adopting the conservancy model is exceptional and the way to go. “For sure, by the end of the year, we shall surely see more than 10 legally registered conservancies in the region,” he said.

The completion of the management plan will see Maungu Conservancy become among the few legally certified conservancies in Kenya, according to the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act (WCMA 2013), and place it among the top 10 certified TTWCA conservancies in the Tsavo Landscape.

On the other hand, grazing plans will help to implement a holistic grazing system that is effective at ensuring long-term rangeland improvement and good animal welfare. It will ensure planned grazing activities by grouping cattle into one herd and allowing them to graze on one pasture for a set amount of time before moving to another.

While developing them, the process involved all the key personnel in the ranches including; the Board of Directors, rangers, head bomas, managers, ranch livestock officers, county livestock officers, and the community members at some point to be able to give out contributions and understand the concept. This is because they will play a critical role in the implementation of these grazing plans.

An effective grazing system manipulates animals to achieve maximum sustained animal and forage output at a low cost. Its sole objective is to improve the vegetation cover, resulting in benefits such as increased plant vigor and output, as well as an improved species composition with more desirable species and overall rehabilitation of the degraded rangeland areas.

Over time, the deteriorating health of the rangelands has been as a result of poor management and grazing practices. There was the need for stakeholders’ understanding of this for prompt and deliberate measures to reverse the situation, thus the development of the grazing plans.

Kasigau Ranch Wildlife Conservancy Chairman Jonathan Mwangeje said the intervention was necessary to save the rangelands. “Such efforts will see a notable restoration of our critical and dependable natural resource: land. There is a need to ensure that such good and positive initiatives are followed through for us to realize the change we longed for,” he said. 

The completion of the project will see the three conservancies move a step ahead toward sustainable conservation and serve as a learning model for other upcoming conservancies. Partnerships are a key part of the success of any organization when executed through a clearly defined vision and mission. TTWCA is looking forward to working with SNV to ensure there is maximum benefit for her member conservancies now and in the near future.