Grassroots InitiativeSamson Parashina
Samson Parashina, a Maasai warrior, son of a local chief and respected safari guide, has shown amazing commitment to developing sustainable green economy models for Kenya’s Kuku Group Ranch, land communally owned by the Maasai community.
Parashina started as a waiter at an ecotourism lodge, but swiftly rose to become the President of the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT) – a grass-roots community trust preserving the wilderness, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Tsavo-Amboseli ecosystem. The ecosystem is recognized for its high biodiversity, significant tourism revenues and as a vital watershed providing freshwater to millions of Kenyans. Three national parks - Tsavo, Amboseli and Chyulu Hills - lie within a human-dominated landscape and the overall health of this ecosystem is reliant on the sustainable management of the lands between the protected areas by the local communities that own them.
The trust’s success has taken its profile global, with actor Edward Norton, the UN’s Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity, a board member. Parashina, Norton and two other Maasai completed the 2009 New York marathon to raise awareness and funding for the trust.
Under Parashina’s strong leadership, the community agreed to appoint MWCT as the community’s manager of natural resources. The trust ensures that the community is protected through sustainable management of their natural resources, protecting the long-term viability of the ecosystem and traditional community livelihoods.
The trust, which employs over 200 locals and has an annual budget of over US$1 million, is developing sustainable financing mechanisms and partnering with Conservation International and Wildlife Works to carry out a REDD+ carbon feasibility study. MWCT is also coordinating a landmark collaboration to protect the Chyulu Forest-Mizima Springs watershed, which provides fresh water for millions of Kenyans. Finally, in an area where human-wildlife conflicts are a major problem, MWCT is pioneering a model where tourism surcharges are used to fund Wildlife Pays, a programme that compensates livestock herders for losses to wildlife predation in exchange for full protection of predators.