By Justin Arenhold, LGT Impact Fellow for Basecamp Explorer, Maasai Mara Kenya
Since the beginning of my LGT Fellowship with Basecamp Explorer Kenya the power of the project, the strength of the organization and its incredible reach and ability to promote positive change in the field of Community Based Conservation has struck a hugely meaningful chord with me.
Who do I work for…
Basecamp Explorer Kenya is a Community Based Eco Tourism company that works alongside the local Maasai people believing and supporting in their strengths, culture and local knowledge.
What I do…
As a BCEK LGT Impact Fellow I am tasked to support the Strategic Development for Basecamp Explorer Kenya with focus areas in Revenue Development, Organizational Flow and New Project Development including new Safari Camps, a Wildlife Training College and a Wildlife Research & Educational Hub. In this role I have the opportunity to showcase Kenya, the Maasai Mara, the surrounding communities and the conservation experiences… all of this in an environment which can truly benefit from these initiatives.
Where is it that I do what I do…
I am mainly based in Maasai Mara in Kenya and make occasional visits to Nairobi for a city recharge, whilst in the Mara I live in a tent moving constantly between our four camps… don’t however be mistaken because they are great tents!!!
Maasai Mara is known to have the highest density of wild animals in the world and with the four Basecamp Explorer Safari Camp options in the Maasai Mara National Reserve and Naboisho Conservancy (two very different game areas located alongside each other) one can always be guaranteed and exposed to the full African Safari experience.
What I am able to achieve…
Positive impact in the field of conservation, community and cultural initiatives, all in one of the most important biospheres in the natural world which is the Maasai Mara.
My Fellowship has led me to further understand, share and support the core values of Community Based Conservation Tourism which focus on:
The Maasai Mara land is for historical reasons fragmented, with many stakeholders craving a piece of the pie. The wildlife species need continuous land in order to live and thrive as they move in search of water and food. Without enough safe and secured land under management, there is simply no case for sustainability. Loss of this habitat would threaten the booming tourism industry on which the entire conservancy model relies. Ensuring that this coexistence between people and wildlife is a success is at the forefront of the Basecamp Explorer mission.
The Basecamp Explorer model attempts to be as financially self-sustainable as possible. Thus safari tourism fulfills a greater mission than simply producing profit – it generates the cash needed to preserve unique wildlife species by paying long-term leases for the necessary land to the local community. In this model, safari tourism lifts a large number of people out of poverty through improving living conditions for people and livestock, while at the same time protecting endangered wildlife.
With Basecamp reinvesting profits into the community for local projects and development and in turn offering employment and other opportunities that might not otherwise be available… It’s a win-win for everyone.
Basecamp offers an excellent way for travelers to connect with local people and have an immersive experience in the areas of community conservation and culture and with my most recent “hands on” involvement in the opening of our Enjoolata Centre, an innovative Masai Cultural Awareness Centre that will tell the story of the iconic wildlife in Maasai Mara as well as the story of the Maasai people who have lived alongside this wildlife for generations I can only continue to strive for success.
Throw into my LGT Fellowship experience some really incredible game sightings, Four Wheel Drive Landcruiser river crossings and amazing sunrises and sunsets, there is no doubt that I feel uplifted, inspired, grateful and energized sharing time with my local Kenyan and Masai colleagues and friends at Basecamp Explorer.
The warmth, talent, humility and motivation to create an even better balanced community and conservation world is truly an extraordinary experience.
If I can continue to support, affect and shift decisions for positive, meaningful and measurable impact and be part of a greater solution, then I could not wish to be on a better path for the future, thank you LGT VP!