The Cottar Safari tradition began in 1919. Eighty years on, we continue to provide an unparalleled safari experience to discerning clients in Africa. Extending an era of luxury and quality, Cottars Safari Service returns to the original spirit and essence of 'safari', reminiscent of a golden era - an era of romance, professional guiding, adventure and elegance. The Esoit Maasai Development and Wildlife Conservation Trust
Sponsored by Cottars 1920s Safari Camp
If you think the view from your tent is spectacular - and it is - you might ask your guide to escort you on a short climb up the hills behind camp. There you will find a vista to make you feel like a Bateleur eagle soaring effortlessly over this expansive Serengeti-Mara terrain that is inarguably some of the most spectacular scenery Africa has to offer. We are truly blessed to occupy this secluded piece of prime Maasailand, and to be able to share the experience of it with you, our valued guests. In world-historic terms, this is where man and beast have co-evolved, and the landscape retains many of the primeval characteristics that subconsciously remind you of your natural roots. In coming here, you have in a sense come home. Karibu.
But there is much more to this view than meets the eye, not all of it so pretty, but equally demanding of our attention. According to a study released in June of 2003, the denizens of this magnificent ecosystem are in serious decline. While the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem supports ""the most diverse migration of grazing mammals on earth,"" resident wildlife in the Mara has declined by an astonishing 70 percent in the 20 years from 1976 to '96. And in more recent years, the Maasai population around the reserve has both increased in number and declined economically; it is estimated that 50 percent of the local people survive on less than a dollar a day. These are related developments, and the unmistakable trend is that in the greater Mara there is less and less wildlife and more, poorer people. We've seen it happen right in front of our eyes. Since we established this camp in 1996, there has been a huge loss of game in our immediate vicinity, and an increase in the number of Maasai bomas and livestock.
Inevitably, the Maasai with their cattle-based value system, find themselves in conflict with wildlife. They jealously invade the fine grazing the reserve holds. As a consequence of poverty, they increasingly engage in meat poaching. They harrass predators that threaten their stock, and compete with grazers that consume the grass and bring disease. As they increasingly practice agriculture, they do constant battle with elephants who destroy crops willy-nilly. It pains us to see this struggle play out, and even as we sometimes can't help ranting about wildlife-unfriendly practices of the local Maasai, we know we would do the same things in their position.
As good neighbors and conservationists involved in nature tourism, it's urgent that we take actions that will help the Maasai to prosper in ways consistent with the health of the habitat and the well-being of the wildlife. Acting in partnership with the local Esoit community of some 3000 individuals, we're in the initial stages of establishing a trust that will develop an eco-friendly land use plan and result in improvements in key quality of life areas like education, health, and general developmental needs.
The first step has already been taken. In collaboration with Nairobi-based African Conservation Center we have conducted a sample survey of some 7.5% of the local Maasai to determine their life-situations, concerns, and aspirations. This data will help provide the foundation for a land use plan that incorporates and responds to their input. As a visitor you will probably be pleased to know that they a very positively disposed toward tourists, and eager to participate in making your visit a positive wildlife and cultural experience. They are acutely aware that economic benefits of tourism can help address their core concerns about health and education.
The Esoit Maasai Development and Wildlife Conservation Trust is designed as a win-win-win for wildlife, the Maasai, and our family of employees and guests. It's an ambitious project that promises to be a long, interesting journey; we are thinking in terms of a 20-year plan. The good news is that we have the will and skills to make it happen. Over the generations, the Cottar family has built up reservoir of good will with the local people; our status as the sole employer in the area presents an opportunity for effective leadership.
Calvin Cottar was virtually raised here, and knows the territory as well as anyone; his experience working with the Kenya Wildlife Service has acquainted him with the intricacies of wildlife management, and he is empowered as an Honorary Game Warden. Louise Cottar brings a Masters in Business and a background working for the United Nations in Somalia to the task of establishing programs that meet internationally agreed upon standards of professionalism and accountability. Guide William ole Siara, a Maasai from a nearby area, has been trained in tourism and wildlife management; he was instrumental in conducting the survey, and will continue to be so in executing the plan and interpreting it for our guests and the local people. He is planning to start a Wildlife Club in the local primary school. Finally, the Esoit Maasai community is a well-spring of knowledge and can be used for conservation and development. They are our full partners in this endeavour in environmental stewardship and community development. The plan is designed to help them retain their precious cultural integrity by placing more value not only on wildlife, but on their traditional skill sets.
In Phase I of the plan, we have established -- and are currently seeking donations to -- the Esoit Maasai Development and Wildlife Conservation Self-Help Fund, a legally sanctioned entity that solicits donations and administers funds. As of August 2003, the first two areas that will receive attention as money becomes available are the implementation of a Wildlife and Ecosystem Protection Plan, and support for the establishment of local health services, which are sorely lacking. As the project matures, we will turn our attention to education, an area of primary concern: fewer than two percent of our neighbors have received any formal education. We will also seek income generating opportunities for the people of Esoit. And we are in the process of developing a more formal Cultural Tourism program that will encourage the production of high-quality beadwork at a fair price, and the presentation and interpretation of traditional ceremonies, dances, songs, and lifestyle practices.
Research conducted by the African Conservation Centre:
Child mortality rate for under five's: 5%
Annual average income : USD 2 per family per day
Most common causes of death: malaria, typhoid, tb
Number of years of education: less than 1
Average number of children per mother: 7
Women's Enterprise Project - 'Face Africa'
'Face Africa' is a joint initiative between Cottars 1920s Camp and a group of 25 women from the Esoit area. The venture aims to develop product concepts; adapt the product concept into actual products; and to develop markets for products. There is no access for the Maasai communities surrounding the Mara region to place their crafts within the camps and lodges in a manner, which is consistent, non-exploitative and financially viable. Further a field, as affluence increases, many people are looking for products that are made by hand, with attention to detail that cannot be obtained from 'clothes sweat shop' factories. Ethnic, hand crafted products will increase in demand as a way to differentiate oneself from the 'masses'. The Maasai knowledge of beading onto clothing, leather, jewellery in exceptional. The Maasai knowledge of western fashions is limited. The fusion of the craft of beading and Maasai style with the understanding of products that would appeal to a western audience is the key to a viable, long term opportunity. 'Face Africa' Range - targeting high end and fusing traditional designs with modern technology - beaded handbags, suede shawls... all with a photo image of the Maasai lady that made the product on a visibly displayed label. The label also contains on the reverse side a description of the lady that made the product - her name, age, how many children she has, where she lives and a contact detail.
Mobile Health Clinic
The nearest hospital is 80 kilometers distant. Local people suffer from the tropical conditions (malaria, diarrhea, typhoid); a lack of medical care in obstetrics (labor, delivery, pre- and post-natal care); animal bites; and, sadly, a creeping, secret AIDS problem. Many of these health problems could be avoided or mitigated with preventative care and education, as well as basic medical services. Right now, we have an opportunity to support a local Maasai health worker who is eager to go into private practice in the area. ""People should feel my warmth,"" says Anton ole Karbolo. He already owns a vehicle that he can equip as an ambulance, and estimates that he needs $1500 in order to do so. Another $6000 or so would provide a start-up supply of medicine. Karbolo estimates that it will cost another $4000-plus to build and equip a modest clinic that will meet basic health and first aid needs, and provide a platform for education about hygiene and preventative medicine. So for about $8000, we could within three months provide the community with a dedicated clinician who would provide medical care for a fee that would sustain his practice.
The mobile health clinic will provide regular visits to the villages of the Esoit area for 3 programs:
-General practition service - covering a respo