ABOUT

Keeping Kenya Wild for over 15 years

OUR MISSION

The Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT) works to protect the legendary ecosystems and astounding biodiversity of East Africa through conservation that directly benefits local Maasai communities.

The world increasingly relies on many traditional communities like the Maasai to protect the ecological treasures that exist within the land that they own. But the incredible wilderness and wildlife of Africa’s grasslands and the famous culture of the Maasai people both face daunting threats to their long-term survival. The fate of both rests with the Maasai themselves as they work to figure out how to benefit from their incredible natural resources while preserving them.

That’s what MWCT is all about—a pioneering partnership between professional conservationists, like US Board President Edward Norton, and dynamic Maasai leaders to show that the Maasai community can thrive, not just survive, by managing their ecosystem wisely. MWCT’s efforts are focused on the Maasai communities and landscapes of Kenya’s Chyulu Hills, within the world-famous Amboseli-Tsavo Ecosystem. This is Hemingway’s “Green Hills of Africa”, deep cloud forests on hills over the savannah teeming with wildlife and Mount Kilimanjaro rising out of the plains. The Maasai communities of this area own all of the land between the protected National Parks and within their land lie critical wildlife migration corridors and habitat reserves, forests that are carbon sinks and rivers and springs that supply the fresh water not only to this ecosystem but to more than seven million people in Kenya, including the second largest city.

MWCT funds and operates programs that promote sustainable economic benefits from conserving this ecosystem, creating a cutting edge model of successful community-based conservation.

The Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT) works to protect the legendary ecosystems and astounding biodiversity of East Africa through conservation that directly benefits local Maasai communities.

MWCT is a pioneering partnership between professional conservationists and dynamic Maasai leaders to show that the Maasai community can thrive, not just survive, by managing their ecosystem wisely. MWCT’s efforts are focused on the Maasai communities and landscapes of Kenya’s Chyulu Hills, within the world-famous Amboseli-Tsavo Ecosystem. This is Hemingway’s “Green Hills of Africa”, deep cloud forests on hills over the savannah teeming with wildlife and Mount Kilimanjaro rising out of the plains.

MWCT funds and operates programs that promote sustainable economic benefits from conserving this ecosystem, creating a cutting edge model of successful community-based conservation.

THE TEAM

  • Samson Parashina
    Samson Parashina President & Chairman of the Board
  • Edward Norton
    Edward Norton President of the US Board
  • Antonella Bonomi
    Antonella Bonomi Founder
  • Luca Belpietro
    Luca Belpietro Founder & Executive Director
  • Titus Muia
    Titus Muia Finance Director
  • PATRICIA CRUZ
    PATRICIA CRUZ Communications Director
  • Dr. Eddy Omete
    Dr. Eddy Omete Health Director
  • George Kingola
    George Kingola Operations Manager
  • IRENE WANGARI
    IRENE WANGARI Administration Manager
  • SARAH MORTON
    SARAH MORTON Head Teacher, Kanzi Academy
  • IAIN OLIVIER
    IAIN OLIVIER Conservation & Programs Manager
  • JULIE GANE
    JULIE GANE Programs Associate - REDD+
  • Muterian Ntanin
    Muterian Ntanin Operation Commander, Rangers
  • David Kanai
    David Kanai Simba Scouts Head Co-ordinator
  • PETER LAITAKWAN
    PETER LAITAKWAN Education Coordinator
  • LANOI MEITEKINI
    LANOI MEITEKINI Livelihoods Coordinator
  • CLAUDIA BARONGO
    CLAUDIA BARONGO Executive Assistant

EDWARD NORTON

Norton first came across MWCT several years ago when he traveled to Kenya to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. The son of one of the leading conservationists in America, he had spent a lifetime absorbing his father’s work at the Wilderness Society, the Grand Canyon Trust (which he founded), creating the Nature Conservancy’s China country program and founding the National Landscape Conservation Foundation. His interest in conservation issues and strategies runs deep, almost to the level of a second career, and he has been widely recognized for the substance of his involvement.

Norton was deeply impressed by the initial efforts of MWCT and the working partnership between the Belpietros and Parashina. “They were doing everything right…approaching conservation as an issue of addressing the needs of people in a sustainable way. They had totally moved beyond this old idea that used to be the underpinning of the environmental movement ‘put a line around the best places and protect them from people’. Even where iconic animals like lions are concerned; there has long been an ‘oppositional’ approach to the needs of people vs the needs of the animals. Luca and Samson were some of the only people in the ecosystem that I heard saying ‘These lions have been studied for 40 years but their populations are still crashing because nobody is focusing on the question of ‘how do we make these lions more economically valuable to the Maasai alive than dead.’ I think this is where 21st century conservation is heading strategically speaking and I wanted to work with people thinking this way.” He felt that he had something to contribute to their effort: the resources to scale up their vision and the experience to help engineer MWCT into a self-sustaining and fully professional organization.

Asking Norton why he and other people should care about a community and an ecosystem that’s so far from home…“Well, for one thing, this is the model of how it needs to happen all over the world, so if you’re interested in the global struggle for sustainability, this is right on the front lines and very cutting edge. But also that landscape is literally where we all come from….those animals are the animals of our ancestral imagination. Imagine if you had to point at a picture of a lion and explain to your son or grandson why that animal no longer exists. It’s going to happen if people don’t make an effort to work on these issues.

STAFF SPOTLIGHT

DavidMusauandBahati-Small

DAVID MUSAU

David is the main chef at CCRC. He is not from the local community but rather a neighboring community called the Kamba.

David has been working with the Trust for 4 years. In addition to his passion to help the Maasai community, David’s greatest motivation is his family that he gets to see every month.

“To be able to educate my kids to the highest level of education there is, my greatest  motivation and MWCT is making this possible and for that I am thankful…I want my kids to have better shot at life and that is why I am working so far away from them! I am sure they understand!

The fact that I get to pat Osiram’s head [MWCT resident lesser Kudu] every morning is amazing! It is my favorite thing right now!”