The “eye of the river” is what the Maasai call the source of a life giving river. The eye, a part of the body so sensitive, that if injured or damaged, would disrupt the whole being of a person and leave man blind and without hope. We are greatly excited and deeply amazed at the extraordinary wisdom of the Maasai elders of the Olorte Community Development Trust and other community leaders who recognized the importance of conserving the Olkeju Arus River and the ancient Elephant Corridor that link the Naimina Enkiyio Forest(Forest of the Lost Child) with the world renowned Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya.
The community based Olkoroi Camp is located on a small hill, curiously enough shaped in the shape of an eye (aerial picture right). The camp lay snug on the edge of this bio-diverse wildlife corridor and water catchment area. It features breathtaking views over the Loita Hills, the surrounding woodland and the bordering Olkeju Arus river gorge. This is also the area that the Maasai elders of the Olorte region of Loita recognize as the source of the Olkeju Arus river and the Olmotonyie Wetland. The “Eye Of The River”.
The year 2014 gave the Walking with Maasai team new hope as we’ve searched through great difficulty for ways in which the Olorte community could buy into the idea of conserving this all important wildlife corridor. We are extremely glad and thankful for the efforts of Joyce Poole and Petter Granli from Elephant Voices and Dickson Ole Kaelo and Daniel Sopia from the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association who visited us to advise and assess the area and who sponsored a visit for some of our Community Trust and other members of the Olorte community to visit some of the very successful community based conservancies in the Maasai Mara area. The exposure of such field trips to other successful community conservation projects does a lot to stimulate vision and interest into conservation activities from community members.
Along with the challenges of mobilizing a remote community such as Olorte into considering conservation as an option, there is a huge need for leadership training and skills development. In 2014 our team together with community trust members attended a conference in Nairobi on Sustainable Development hosted by the Boulder Foundation, this conference together with the Work 4 a Living training course has given us the tools to begin training with key role players. Skills training together with field visits to other community conservation projects and creating awareness through village training workshops within the community is key to the success of establishing a community based conservation project.
Tourism in Kenya was greatly affected by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as well as travel warnings due to terrorism activities in other parts of Kenya. This had a very negative effect on the whole country and many tourist camps and lodges had to close their doors and thousands of people lost their jobs. Thanks to the commitment and dedication of the Olkoroi Camp staff and management, the camp stayed operational throughout 2014 and we managed to get some good reviews on BizzNews.com and on the Walking with Maasai FaceBook page.
We are very grateful to all our supporters and friends who keep on encouraging us. We thank you for your support and faith in this project and we wish all a prosperous 2015!