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Maasai Mara: Enjoolata Information Centre

When you set out to the great Maasai Mara on a maiden trip, your imagination is alive with scenes of vast grasslands, endless savannah stretching for kilometres as far as the eye can see. Wavy hills, the occasional sprout of an acacia, the slow march of elephants, the trot of wild dogs, and the rowdy gallop of wildebeests. You envisage lions on the prowl seeking the next zebra to devour. Overhear their roar. And you foresee the cheetah’s lightning-speed sprint. It all plays out in your mind as you travel to The Mara. And then you arrive at the Enjoolata Information Centre.

Lion cubs
Two lion cubs trot in the Maasai Mara jungle. As you travel to the region, your imagination is awash with such scenes. PHOTO COURTESY: Versatile Photographers.

Set within Base Camp, Maasai Mara, which lies in the hems of the National Reserve, Enjoolata Information Centre is like gold in the midst of an ocean. Encountering the place comes with a feeling of awe and satisfaction, not only because it wasn’t part of your expectations but also because the serene setting is the perfect place to host a haven of information. Enjoolata, which, in Maasai, translates to knowing or finding a hidden thing, feels just like a discovery. The architecture itself is unique with open, spacious rooms that invite some soothing birdsong, the serene ambiance of the place, and convene at a quadrangle for a night-time bone fire and an outdoor cinema. Each of the eleven sections holds equal weight in the quest to empower and garner information. There’s an addictive library, its shelves rich in literature ranging from Charles Dickens’s David Copperfield to National Geographic picture books, and walls dotted with expressive art pieces that leave you smiling. Two exhibition centres showcase pictures and facts about the local wildlife. There is a space set aside for an upcoming community radio station that will no doubt impact the people living around the area.   

Enjoolata Map
A map of Enjoolata information Centre. Each of the eleven sections holds equal weight in the quest to empower and garner information.

   Enjoolata Information Centre was founded in 2019 by the Basecamp Explorer Foundation, a non-governmental organization immersed in fighting wildlife extinction in conjunction with local communities. Although still in its infancy, the centre boasts a lively human presence, rife with the excitement of the opportunity to be here, to find this treasure trove of information and knowledge in the middle of The Mara. Such was the enthusiasm seen on the faces of six employees of the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA) when they attended a three-day USAID-sponsored photography training by Versatile School of Photography at Enjoolata Information Centre’s Edit room. A few steps away at room five is a BMB workshop where local Maasai women have been provided with a space to do their beadwork beside a shop where they sell their craft. One cannot help but see the zeal of these women who are finally empowered.

Enjoolata Library
A section of the library at Enjoolata Information Centre within Basecamp in the Maasai Mara, Kenya. The serene ambiance of the place makes it the perfect place to lose yourself in a good book.

At the centre of Enjoolata’s core values are conservation and the need to involve the local community in these efforts. The founder seeks to answer two pressing questions in the Maasai Mara. How is climate change affecting the preservation of flora and fauna? And how is it affecting the livelihood of the Maasai People?  “It is a call to action,” says Mr. Francis Sopia, the Basecamp Explorer Foundation’s Chief Project Manager. “How can we as a community contribute to curbing climate change and reduce the effects in the conservation arena and also in our livelihoods?” He poses. The information about climate change provided by the centre goes a long way in creating the public awareness needed to fight climate change which has gravely affected the world. It is no wonder that three of Basecamp Explorer’s five major projects are on conservation. The first, reforestation, encourages the locals to participate in reviving and restoration of lost vegetation cover. Second, a water project provides accessibility of clean water to the Maasai community. The foundation also runs a waste management plan that involves collecting plastics from lodges and areas around and sending them hundreds of kilometres to the capital, Nairobi, to be recycled.

One of the employees of the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA) who attended a three-day photography training by Versatile School of Photography practices videography skills. Two rooms at the Enjoolata Information Centre are dedicated to a gallery where pictures and facts of the local wildlife are displayed.

  The centre is a pot stewing with Maasai values. “This is where you will find the culture of the Maasai. Talk about the artifacts. Talk about everything that concerns or pertains to the Maasai culture.” Says Emmanuel Kisemei, a communication officer at MMWCA. Enjoolata Information Centre is also the hub of research done in the Maasai Mara. In seeing the need to keep the Maasai cultural info and the data of certain species intact, Basecamp Explorer Foundation also offers material on how Maasai culture and conservation come together. Today, the foundation has provided an opportunity to safeguard both the culture and the breath-taking experience of the Maasai Mara. Enjoolata Information Centre has two rooms for professors who wish to come to the Mara to do their research. “In order not to lose the information, we’d like it to remain with us here at the centre. If the stakeholders, landowners, or community need the info, they can find it here at Enjoolata.” Concludes Mr. Francis Sopia.

Maasai women
The Maasai beadwork workshop at the Enjoolata Information Centre. The project benefits 160 women from the Maasai Mara landscape.

WRITTEN AND EDITED BY: Tim Njugi, Writer, Blogger, and Photographer

STORY COURTESY: David Macharia, CEO and Founder, Versatile Photographers  

Spirit of Adventure

‘Drying Mara spells doom for wildlife’. It’s one of the headlines which captured my mind and took my attention. This was in one of our local newspapers, ‘The daily nation’. I had to take time and think about this. ‘Our wildlife our heritage’ is one of our slogans as Kenyans. Kenya benefits a lot from the wildlife and tourism industry and if we get to hear such news, it is true we have to be and get worried for they are not pleasant to listen to.

Activities such as tree cutting is among the highly discouraged anthropogenic activity at the Mara National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anthropogenic activities have posed a great threat to our tourism industry. Encroachment of wildlife habitats by locals for farming and settling due to high population growth has directly affected our ecosystems. The many benefits we enjoyed from the vast forests and vegetation we had including temperature regulation, climate regulation, carbon sinks have to a far greater extent been slowly diminishing from our sights.

Leopards often drag their prey on top of a tree to avoid them being taken by other animals. Mara National Park

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clearing up of huge areas under trees have been the order of the day. We have developed some notions in our minds of caring about much for today without wanting to know how our present actions will affect the future. We tend to be much focused with what is for today and forgetting about tomorrow. We all know that tourism, plays a pivotal role in economic development and the main tourist attraction element in Kenya is the rich wildlife resources we have. Maasai Mara in particular is one of the most exciting places famously known for the annual spectacular wildebeests migration to Serengeti Park. The conditions in the park are of no doubt unbearable to the wildlife. According to the newspaper, already wildebeests, hippos, elephants and buffalos have migrated to Serengeti Park in Tanzania.

Herd of elephants moving towards the Mara tree for a shade and rest.

It is clear that we have to join hands to avoid further destructions of the ecosystem. Checking on the population growth and the over exploitation of natural resources within the core areas of the Mara should be our sole goal so that we can save the reserve. The migration of these animals is a great concern that should not be taken lightly for it risks the sustenance of our future generation.

Giraffe good eyesight helps it to avoid surprise attacks from predators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is our mandate to protect and conserve the forests which are sustaining the Mara River which are Mau and Nyakweri Forests in Transamara, Enoosupuka Forest in Narok West and Loita Forest in Narok South. The Mara River ecosystem is the sole determiner of life in the region. This calls therefore for efforts to be made and actions to be taken to ensure this ecosystem is protected. Its effects are very clear for if the wildlife in the reserve have steadily reduced in population, then it’s definite that we shall have few tourists visiting the area and corresponding decrease in income earned.

The best way to protect the Mara is through planting a tree and adopting it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is my appeal to all stakeholders and all locals concerned, it is our role to advocate for sustainable development. Let’s stand in solidarity to protect Maasai Mara national park and save lives. It’s our obligation to care for our wildlife and promote and protect tourism.

Versatile Adventures is a Versatile Photographers initiative to create awareness for Wildlife, Conservation, Tourism and Culture through content development

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