COVID–19 emergency aid for the Maasai Mara Region

Project description

Title: COVID-19 emergency support to wildlife conservancies in Maasai Mara region, Kenya
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Kenya
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife (MoTW)
Overall term: 2021-2023

Elephants in the Mara © GIZ Huber


The ecosystem of the Maasai Mara Nature Reserve is home to about a quarter of Kenya’s total wildlife population. It is world-renowned as one of the most important destinations for safari tourism. However, about 70 per cent of the wildlife lives outside the Maasai Mara for limited periods. In order for the Mara to survive, the adjacent land must be managed in a conservation-oriented manner. This land is owned by local landowners who have joined forces and voluntarily made their land available in exchange for lease payments, enabling 17 game preserves to be formed.

The business model is based primarily on tourism revenues. However, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism has plummeted by over 90 per cent – and lease payments can no longer be met as a result.


Wildlife sanctuaries in the Maasai Mara region are secured as a model for land use and are emerging from the COVID-19 crisis as more sustainable, resilient and representative than before.

Sunset in the Mara © GIZ Huber


The project directly supports six wildlife sanctuaries through the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA) umbrella organisation, offering short-term coverage of lease payments or operating costs for the management of wildlife sanctuaries.

Emergency aid is accompanied by a ‘building back better’ approach to make wildlife sanctuaries more fit for the future. This includes improving the management of wildlife refuges and broadening their business models through additional revenue opportunities.

The project is working with Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife and the relevant wildlife authority to provide national support for the new wildlife policy. It also helps to maintain and designate necessary wildlife corridors based on holistic spatial planning.

Last updated: December 2021

Giraffes in the Mara © GIZ Huber

Additional information