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MARA NABOISHO CONSERVANCY, MAASAI MARA, KENYA
Leopard Hill, a Basecamp Explorer property, is a modern safari camp in the 50,000-acre Mara Naboisho Conservancy. Over fifteen years of working closely with the Maasai community, Basecamp Explorer has worked towards a financially and socially sustainable model to protect this vital ecosystem. The community-owned nature conservancy is owned by the Maasai but leased by tourism operators. Bordering the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Naboisho benefits from the same expansive landscapes and variety of wildlife, but without the crowds. The density of lions within Naboisho is one of the highest globally, with a population of more than 70 identified lions who use Naboisho as their home territory. The area is also becoming a haven for elephants, which are under threat from poaching throughout Kenya. Naboisho also generates an income that benefits 10,000 individuals and is home to the Koiyahi Guiding School.
Located in Mara Naboisho Conservancy, Leopard Hill is committed to working towards best practices in sustainability aligned with The Long Run’s 4C’s by;
An array of experiences at Leopard Hill help guests get closer to Mara’s wildlife and heritage. Alongside game drives, walking safaris with Maasai guides and horseback safaris are a lower-impact way to explore the vast conservancy. Situated next to a series of watering holes, where an array of wildlife gathers at dawn and dusk, each tent has an elevated deck and retractable skylights so that wildlife and big sky encounters don’t come much more effortless. The camp offers guests privacy and magnificent views from four deluxe tents, a family tent, and a honeymoon suite.
Leopard Hill joined The Long Run in 2020, committing to best practice within the 4Cs – Conservation, Community, Culture, and Commerce – to contribute meaningfully to the biodiversity and the people of the local region.
Through our long-term partnerships with the Maasai people, Basecamp Explorer Kenya, the company that manages Leopard Hill brings community empowerment and nature conservation to a new level. To date, Basecamp’s signature achievement in conservation is the establishment of the 50 000-hectare Mara Naboisho Conservancy in partnership with the Maasai community where Leopard Hill is located. Since its establishment in 2010, Naboisho Conservancy provides a haven for many wildlife, such as lions, cheetahs, and elephants, under dire threat due to human expansion. The Naboisho Conservancy management model has set ground-breaking precedence for nature conservation in Kenya and globally. The conservancy has become renowned for its bountiful biodiversity and breath-taking beauty. Already, researchers are witnessing how wildlife thrives inside protected areas. The density of lions within Naboisho is one of the highest globally, with a population of more than 70 identified lions who use Naboisho as their home territory.
In 2010, Basecamp initiated the formation of the Mara Naboisho Community Conservancy model where Leopard Hill is located. This broad initiative was to help save the Mara Serengeti ecosystem, which was at significant risk of subdivision that would have resulted in the loss of pristine wildlife territory. Basecamp took the initiative to partner with Maasai landowners to ensure the region’s sustainability and serve as a source of livelihood for the Maasai community.
Today the Mara Naboisho Conservancy provides a guaranteed monthly income to over 500 Maasai landowners and employment opportunities to the local Masai people living around Naboisho. Under the community partnership initiative, Basecamp also purchases most of its camp’s requirements from the local community. The milk, meat and vegetables consumed at the camp and other necessities are purchased from the local shops and markets, thus supporting regional economic development.
Basecamp Explorer also gives Maasai youth the opportunity for a better future by providing scholarships and financial support, which enable them to attend schools and tertiary institutions. The education they receive boosts their chances for a better life through employment opportunities due to education. So far, more than 52 girls have been sponsored through primary and high school education. Koiyaki Guiding School, an institution supported by Basecamp Explorer, provides Maasai youth with responsible guiding skills training. After graduating, they are employed by Basecamp and other camps.
Basecamp Maasai Brand, a flagship economic empowerment program of Basecamp, incorporates traditional Maasai practices and income-generating projects. This community project provides Maasai women with an entrepreneurial opportunity to leverage their beading skills and generate an income. At four to five years of age, most Maasai girls start developing their unique beading techniques. Basecamp Maasai Brand recognises this skill and offers employment and a reliable source of income to Maasai women, all between 17 and 60 years of age. In 2008, the Basecamp Masai Brand was awarded World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) accreditation for outstanding fair practices at the workplace, fair prices paid to women producers, quality products and good governance. To date, through their participation in the Basecamp Maasai Brand project, over 150 local Maasai women have been able to receive cash benefits that have helped educate their children and improve their well-being and that of their families’ standards of living.
Basecamp strives to create economic benefits for local communities. The Mara Naboisho Conservancy, where Leopard Hill is located, provides a guaranteed monthly income to 500 Maasai landowners and employment opportunities to the local Maasai people living around Naboisho. About 96 percent of Leopard Hill employees are from the local Maasai community, further providing economic stability. This community partnership model has seen the establishment of tourism facilities of high ecological standards and a minimal environmental footprint. As a tourist destination, the region has a low impact due to strictly controlled and limited tourist vehicles, which helps protect the wildlife’s environment, increasing biodiversity.