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Apr 28, 2015 9:53 AM ET

EDWARD NORTON’S FUNDRAISER: Get a Google Hangout with Edward Norton

iCrowdNewswire - Apr 28, 2015


You’ll jump on a Google Hangout with Edward and get a Birdman poster signed by cast and crew.

Google.org is matching your donations through the end of April and up to $20,000. So every $10 you donate is worth $20 for the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust. Even better, every $10 donation is an entry to win a 20 minute Google Hangout with Edward Norton. So, if you give $50 you get 5 entries. Every penny counts and it’s all for good.

Edward Norton took the Earth Day Doodle quiz and found out he’s a… watch the video to find out! You can find out which animal you are on the Earth Day Google Doodle.

Our Mission

The Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust 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 and dynamic young 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. Lease payments for conservancy zones, carbon credits, payments for watershed protection, sustainable ecotourism, wildlife monitoring and security, conservation and tourism employment—these are just some of the ways MWCT is creating a cutting edge model of successful communitybased conservation. 

MWCT has helped Kuku Group Ranch get one of the best deals in Kenya with its tourism partner, Campi ya Kanzi. “Best” as defined by base management concession fee, highest conservation surcharge in Kenya ($100 per person per day), 95% of employs from within immediate local community and sustainability of operational standards by the lodge. Campi ya Kanzi lodge uses only solar energy for both electricity and hot water, manages waste sustainably and recycles all black water and gray water and is the only camp in Kenya that is largely water self-sufficient, using self-collected rainwater as opposed to drawing from community water sources. Results of these policies are that Campi ya Kanzi is one of the most highly awarded “eco-lodges” in all of Africa and revenues from tourism to the community have become reliable and substantial, approaching $400,000/year. This is an ‘achieved’ objective but MWCT serves as the official oversight/management representative for the community in enforcing compliance and managing the revenues from conservation surcharges. Tourism surcharges are used by MWCT to fund Wildlife Pays, a program that compensates livestock herders for losses to wildlife predation through a rigorous system of certification and monitoring of best practices. Maasai livestock owners are paid quarterly for value of losses in exchange for full protection of predators throughout the group ranch. MWCT’s Wildlife Pays uses no philanthropic funding to pay for this program. Surcharges levied on tourists coming to see wildlife more than cover the annual compensation costs, establishing a pioneering and sustainable new model of Payment for Ecosystem Service (PES) around the protection of wildlife. Four year goal: MWCT is promoting this sustainable model of ‘wildlife protection PES’ and has opened discussions with major tourism industry leaders within the ecosystem about scaling this program by applying wildlife PES surcharges on the bednights of larger hotel concessions within the parks to fund expansion of compensation and security capacity throughout the community lands between Amboseli and Tsavo.

MWCT employs nearly 100 community rangers and predator monitors and is engaged in a comprehensive program, under formalized partnership with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), to prevent illegal activity, reduce human/wildlife conflict and monitor impacts on biodiversity. MWCT is one of the largest employers of community rangers and wildlife monitors in the ecosystem after KWS. Objectives in this program are to increase capacity for wildlife protection and monitoring throughout the community lands in the ecosystem, monitor and maintain conservancy zones, improve quality and volume of data collection by training the existing community rangers in cutting-edge methods of cyberdata collection and generally increase the use of science based practice in our assessment of impacts on species populations. Formal training and ‘deputization’ of MWCT rangers has recently been approved by KWS so that MWCT can now work in even closer coordination with national authorities. KWS recently signed a formal MoU with MWCT to support its security operations. Goal: MWCT seeks to expand this program into neighboring group ranches.

MWCT has developed an ambitious model for a network of land conservancy zones focused on securing the integrity of key ecosystem components and services that lie within the community owned lands between the national parks. The network of conservancies we are seeking to secure would constitute over 150,000 acres of the most important ecological zones (corridors, grassland reserves, watersheds and springs) and the long term management deals in our model would ensure that good stewardship of the ecosystem would also create alternative livelihood opportunity with meaningful sustainable revenue for the community, whose cattle economy suffers ever more regularly from the impacts of climate change and drought. To demonstrate the viability of this program MWCT has negotiated, secured and funded two such management deals for a key grasslands habitat reserve and a critical wetland that lies directly within the migration corridor. These conservancy zones total over 12,000 acres (with near-term potential to expand to 22,000) and are among very few such deals, generating direct annual revenue, to be successfully negotiated with an intact Group Ranch along the Amboseli-Tsavo migration corridor. Across 2012 and 2013 we hope to achieve a third conservancy zone around a key water source and to find specific sources of long-term funding for the lease payments while also beginning to raise money for a permanent endowment to fund the conservancy network. Four year goal: To raise a $7 million dollar Phase 1 endowment to fund the Kuku Conservancies in perpetuity and then carry ‘proof of concept’ to the potential partner-funders like Nature Conservancy and seek their help in scaling the endowment and the network throughout the ecosystem.

MWCT is leading and coordinating efforts to assess the potential value of carbon stocks and watershed services, which could bring additional revenue to the community for sustainable stewardship of ecosystem assets like forests and water sources. MWCT and Kuku community have signed an MoU creating a formal partnership and strategy designating MWCT as the community’s agent in developing, negotiating and managing payment for ecosystem service deals from all community resources. This is the first such partnership ever created within the Maasai Group Ranches of the Amboseli-Tsavo ecosystem. MWCT has secured funding through Conservation International and the JP Morgan Fund for an initial assessment on carbon assets in the Kuku and Rombo Group Ranches and brokered a formal partnership between both Kuku and Rombo communities and Wildlife Works (WW). WW is a private sector carbon project designer and implementer that has brokered the only two revenue-generating, verified carbon credit trading projects in Kenya. WW has nearly completed its initial assessments of carbon stocks in Kuku and Rombo and we hope to advance to a valuation and revenue share proposal by the end of 2012. MWCT hosted the first ever ‘Chyulu carbon summit’ at its headquarters, The Chyulu Conservation and Research Center, in March of 2011. In attendance were officials of Kuku and Mbirikani Group Ranches, Kenya Wildlife Service, Conservation International, Wildlife Works, African Wildlife Foundation, UNEP and Maasailand Preservation Trust. This was the first coordinated meeting of the Chyulu Forest community stakeholders and representative organizations with government, NGO’s and private sector carbon brokers. MWCT also recently extended its PES program by coordinating a landmark collaboration, on behalf of all stakeholders within the Chyulu Hills ecosystem, with Conservation International, AECOM, Pavan Sukdhev’s GIST Advisory Group, the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF) and Chyulu Hills Conservation Working Group to formulate a multi-pronged assessment, protection and collateralization strategy for the critical Chyulu Forest-Mizima Springs watershed. Nearly seven million people, almost a quarter of Kenya’s population including the city of Mombasa, rely fundamentally on Mizima Springs for fresh water and the MWCT/CI initiative is the first such coordinated strategy to address long-term security for this ‘life blood’ of the ecosystem. Four year goals: Funding further carbon and watershed service assessments (including the Kilimanjaro-Chyulu watershed); successfully broker carbon and watershed assets into emerging global markets and PES models that reward local communities with sustainable livelihood through ‘stewardship’ services.

MWCT has engaged with Texas A&M’s Rangeland Management Division to initiate a research partnership based at our new Chyulu Conservation and Research Center to study impacts of herding practice, fire and drought on grasslands and develop a long-term management strategy for sustainable use. One year goal: To identify initial ‘scope’ for research and find joint funding with TAMU to initiate study.

MWCT has engaged in an exciting new relationship with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to develop species monitoring protocols standardized with Tsavo National Park research teams. This partnership will facilitate data-sharing across the ecosystem and help to understand long-term trends of abundance and distribution of key wildlife species. MWCT is for the first time beginning the work of backing up our anecdotal successes with solid scientific assessment of the impact of our conservation programs. Four year goal: Establish clear research agendas that service conservation implementation, fund them and recruit research talent with the goal of producing and publishing new scientific studies. Also implement long-term monitoring protocols for key species.

Using funds raised in the highly publicized “Maasai Marathon” campaign during the 2009 New York Marathon, MWCT acquired and renovated a defunct safari camp, transforming it into the Chyulu Conservation and Research Center. More than just a headquarters for MWCT, the CCRC is a fully equipped and appointed facility that will serve as the hub and host of the many diverse collaborations and partnerships supporting MWCT’s agenda. In addition, CCRC represents yet another alternative employment and training opportunity for people from the local community to work in conservation as staff, security and increasingly sophisticated roles like research assistants.

Total revenues entering the community through conservation related employment have become substantial. MWCT is the largest employer in the Kuku community and is proactively cultivating and training a new generation of leaders within the community. Samson Parashina, pictured above, embodies this commitment. The son of a local chief, he started as a waiter at the ecotourism lodge and rose to become President of MWCT. While still working as a guide he is attending university in Nairobi and also negotiating all MWCT agreements with the community leaders. Samson was also recently awarded the United Nations 2012 “Champions of the Earth” prize for leading community efforts to conserve Kenya’s Tsavo-Amboseli ecosystem. The Community Ranger Program Coordinator, Wildlife Pays Coordinator, Simba Scout Coordinator, Conservation Support Officer, and the new Operations Commander are all Maasai from the local Kuku community. The new Operations Commander is Maasai and a veteran KWS officer. The Director of Finance, Titus Muia, (who also serves as the Director of Education Programs) is also Kenyan. Four year goal: To identify and cultivate program officers from within the local community who will become MWCT’s ultimate future and conservation leaders within the ecosystem.

Education Program Health Program MWCT supports 19 primary schools and 1 secondary school within Kuku Group Ranch in partnership with the Ministry of Education, with a total of 7000 students enrolled in these schools. MWCT also funds and operates the only special academy for highly talented students in the regions, the Kanzi Academy. We employ 50 certified teachers and 10 support staff. In addition, we support the schools through construction of classrooms and supply of solar power, school stationery and furniture alongside offering support for extracurricular activities. MWCT runs a scholarship program, which has so far benefited 36 students in their secondary and college level education and is continuing to find more scholarship sponsors. Our education program also focuses on delivering environmental conservation awareness amongst students and the community to instill an appreciation for wildlife and the importance of its preservation. Two year goal: Hire an Education Program Director and find dedicated grant funding to underwrite teacher salaries. The MWCT Health Program focuses on providing quality frontline medical care in health facilities, conducting medical outreaches to remote areas, and developing innovative ways to advocate for improvements in the health of the Maasai people. MWCT supports four local health facilities in partnership with the Kenyan government. We employ the only doctor serving the community alongside two nurses and auxiliary staff, and recently established the first laboratory in the area. MWCT was awarded a three-year grant by the Susan Komen Foundation to fund a Health Program Director, who is coordinating all strategic planning, governmental relations, measurement of clinical program data and sourcing grants for the health program. Four year goal: Establish dedicated funding pipelines for health programs and deepen integration with national health agencies and efforts. Achieve the goal of some of these services being paid for by renewable natural resource based revenue models.

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