Maungu Ranch inches closer to attaining wildlife conservancy status

Maungu Ranch conducted its first stakeholders’ meeting in February 2022 as it sprints towards becoming a legally recognized wildlife conservancy—not only in Taita but Kenya at large—under the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act of 2013 (WCMA 2013). As stipulated in the process of developing a wildlife management plan, partners and stakeholders gathered for an overview of the progress as well as giving expert contributions to it.

The process was championed by the Taita Taveta Wildlife Conservancies Association (TTWCA), which partnered with SNV to help the ranch develop its wildlife management plan, a legal document that is crucial to the acquisition of conservancy status.

Maungu Ranch got financial support from the Development of Smart Innovation through Research in Agriculture (Desira) project, which began in December 2021. The funds enabled Maungu to engage EcoDev Consultants, who are well-versed in the field and are known for the development of a number of Wildlife Management Plans, such as that of Mgeno and Wushumbu Conservancies, which are in their final stages, awaiting gazettement.

The main objective of the project was to contribute to climate-relevant, productive and sustainable transformation of agriculture and food systems in low- and middle-income countries.

Speaking during the meeting, TTWCA chairman Donald Mcharo urged the Maungu board to commit themselves to carrying out the implementation of the plan once it is finalized through effective and efficient management. “As a board, maintaining the role of policymaking and employing the right management that will implement the activities, is key,” Mcharo said.

As a key stakeholder in the landscape, AWF representative Mary Wanyika congratulated the management for taking that bold step in developing a plan that will see it develop economically.

The meeting was graced by a senior community warden from KWS, Stephen Kuseren from the Tsavo Conservation Area, to ensure the process conforms to the set guidelines under the WCMA 2013. “Taita ranches’ rate of adopting the conservancy model is exceptional and the way to go,” Kuseren said. “By the end of the year, we shall surely see more than 10 legally registered conservancies in the region.”

As a way forward, the ranch is looking into conducting technical working groups, composed of ecological management, tourism, fisheries and resources, community and partnership, and operation and security working groups. These will explore every category they represent and gather the information that will form part of the management plan.

Upon its 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.

Maungu Ranch is the sixth ranch to embark on developing a management plan after Mgeno, Wushumbu, Dawida, Choke and Lumo conservancies. TTWCA has two fully recognised conservancies, namely Chalongo and Kasigau conservancies.

This article is the second piece of our #TTWCA2022 series, which captures TTWCA’s top highlights in the first half of 2022. The series will culminate with the launch of the second edition of the TTWCA Bulletin in August. Stay tuned! In case you missed the first-ever edition of the TTWCA Bulletin, you can have a read here. Enjoy!