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About Calvin

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    Born in Africa
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    Lodge Owner/Manager

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  1. The lookout at old Cottar Mara was one of the few places one could guarantee leopard sightings. It had the feeling of a mini treetops..the upside was Happy clients and lots of goat sales ( we never did live goats) in the local economy, and all revenues after cost went to the mAsai landowners ( cattle dip, school etc). Downside was that we were training the leopard to eat goats so when there were no clients they would hit maasai bomas...
  2. Tom K, this is a good question..,best way is to ask them directly exactly how much land they are leasing, and how big is their budget for leading. Then Cross check with the Maasai Mara Wildlife Conservancies association/ Northern Rangeland Trust/Laikipia Wildlfie Forum (and I am sure there are associations down in Tsavo as well) or ask at Kenya Wlidlife Conservancy Association. If the property themselves are not willing to put their answers directly in writing so they can be checked out with the local associations, then they are probably fibbing to get your business.
  3. Jake, you have a done a great job putting forward the reasons that the conservancy model is the way forward. I put it to all agents and prospective visitors that when you go to camps into the state parks and reserve that you are not necessarily contributing to wildlife conservation because these state lands are gazetted for ecosystem protection even if not one visitor entered them and the government would have to source funding for their upkeep by taxing the urban populations / industry. These national estates were not created for profit making by a few individuals ( lodge owners) and in my view, every one of them should be asked to remove themselves within a given time period, and relocate out onto new and existing conservancies on surrounding ( threatened) land on the basis of 350 acres of land leased per bed, and 4 km's minimum distance between properties. I think we shou,d all be able to enter the reserves on daily or camping basis at much higher entry fees, and the entire amount of these fees should go to the surrounding community land units owners to give them income and a pcsycological ownership in the protected area, and create a buffer to stop outsiders imposing 'tragedy of the commons' domestic livestock grazing and poaching - if they collectively have something to lose from such actions of an individual, they will find that individual and correct him of his wayward ways.. Do your research before booking; support any camp actually leasing land for wildlife conservancy, and don't support any camp not leasing land even if the 'experience' is supposedly better....this 'wilderness' experience you are looking for comes at a price..where there is a lodge present there is can be no 'wilderness', and every dollar going to these camps inside is a dollar less to secure the most threatened land and wildlife in the surrounding private and community lands...
  4. The issue non hunters have is that it is perceived to be for 'pleasure' ...hunting is not about pleasure.... Looking at the advent of man, hunting was the key to survival and it is in our DNA..The fact that hunters choose to spend hundreds of millions indeed billions of dollars on their activity is testimony to the importance it has to them, and it is not a trivial pleasure..and why is it that the world is trying to stop Africans from having hunting when you all have it in your own backyard? in the USA this year sustainable utilization and hunting contributed over $1 billion towards the budgets of state wilderness areas...there is no other source of revenue that comes close especially not from the animal rights groups although they raise tons of money where does it go? .. While the revenues generation from sustainable utilization from the multiplier effect in the economy is about $57 billion per annum. I will let the South Africans here explain the importance of hunting to them...all I know is that sustainable utilization is being closed down slowly but surely all over Africa on the belief this is good for animals, but the opposite is true, by devaluing wildlife, it is simply replaced by other land uses ...I predict we will see the closure of hundreds of game farms in SA in the next 10 years because of the anti hunting political pressure in the west closing down imports, carriage etc.., So what to do? There are only two ways to keep wildlife on the land (1) leasing the land or (2) common sense to prevail on sustainable use, and hunting.. Which is easier to put in place,, and which has a ready source of revenues, which of these has a proven track record of success? Sustainable utilization and hunting. Unfortunately because wildlife is a religion in the western audience and not seen as local Africans livelihood resource (Lehigh requires devolution laws and landowners empowerment), or competition to their domestic stock or agriculture ( state ownership, prohibition), I have pretty much given up hope that common sense is possible on the subject in the urban west. So we are left with PES - Payment for Environmental Services.
  5. One thing for sure; don't count on tourism to pay the is the most monopolized industry in Africa with 35% of the revenues staying with the selling chain as commissions , while it is practiced primarily on state land - up to 95% in the case of kenya. In addition the selling chain focus on 'client' experience ( pristine wildlife ) when most of these areas with hunting in SA are mixed game and domestic stock areas, or smaller fenced areas with pylons in sight etc..Don't count on tourism to meet the shortfall in revenues. I think this this is the perfect time to lay the gauntlet down to the AR would they compensate the landowners exactly if SU fails due to their direct political action closing down markets,naming and shaming etc.. The objective would be to give them an opening to come up with an alternative source of funding ( PES) to avert the loss of half of that area area under hunting / SU to monoculture agri or domestic stock, and removal of 10 million animals. The best way would be for SA and Namibia wildlife associations to come together on this with a large press conference, so the AR folk get the message loud and clear, then give a deadline for when the removal starts (couple of years maybe) within which they have to come with a funding mechanism and the ready money for landowners to keep wildlife on their land. at least this way, it will be documented as to who is responsible for this removal of wildlife - the AR activists.. This strategy may well kick them out of their delusion of moral superiority and start thinking about how to get as much money as they can to the might make them realize finally that wildlife conservation is not about bad immoral people but livelihood incomes and making wildlife valuable... Since the poorest community areas will be at most risk and have to change land use fastest in such a scenario where there is no hunting, I would recommend having them front and centre in this challenge, with their leaders speaking for thousands of their rural folk, with passion. Much like the Inuit elders did at the CITES Conference de parties meeting a couple of years ago that got the polar bear issue freed up.
  6. I agree that Ivan's post is spot on and well written... Hunting works where there's governance, and little alternative land use competition, lower population densities, etc. But in areas like this, where hunting is not possible ( prohibition etc) then wildlife has to be valued by 'soft' proxy such as community benefits, lime building schools, bursaries, security (NRT. Model) but this does not put money in the pockets of the landowners for livelihood income,many the success of these things can actually backfire by encouraging landowners to invest in the primary livelihood resources that makes them the income....domestic livestock etc. Which is why 'hard' proxy value is so important - the payment for environmental services ( (PES) on a per ha per year basis that is at the opportunity cost value for these poor people NOT to impose any alternative land uses or monoculture.. The key is to make the leasing of land ( PES) to be a profitable undertaking by all business, - it is clear that wildlife cannot rely on tourism,, certainly not on the wildlife NGO's ,many mostly not on hunting as the market are being closed down by Animal rights pressure ( despite their own countries all - without fail - having wildlife management programs that include hunting. Thoughts?
  7. A sustained Legal trade allows source of horn to be known and accountable, encourages sustainable use, and would allow pricing to be controlled to take away the incentive for 'poachers' to kill wild rhino. For sure, if there is no trade, the price will continue to increase and encourage even more good people to take out rhinos, hereby consigning them to certain extinction...and don't even imagine that the demand in the east can be reduced through PR campaigns and naming and shaming...these are proud people with ancient history, family traditions and 5000 year history of using horn,mand they are not going to listen to a few shouting mzungus. Indeed, they have every incentive now to kill of Africa's rhino because they have a growing herd of their own AND THEY WILL SELL horn - legal or not.. If I were john Hume and amongst the legal trade advocates, I would urgently get the Chinese rhino farmers on board and included in the rhino horn supplier selling cooperative so that they are on board with the program for sustainable use generally, as a partner..
  8. Examples? 290,000 acres of the Mara conservancies that have 16, 000 beneficiaries all deciding to use wildlife as a land use. It works, but is the money enough? If wheat prices go up, no. They will revert to wheat . Which is why land use plans have to include the economic threshold to make it work. Is the west going to carry on shouting about elephants and ivory while the land goes at 8% ! per annum In worst hit areas ...10 to 15 years we have max to get these people on board.... Have you got a better idea? There is non. Africans are thinking about survival not about elephants, and if the elephant is not part of their survival its a hindrance and will be killed off.
  9. Ok, the key to this is that the conservancies in the Mara have reversed subdivision, and are a plan for the future which is more than can be said for any other model ( hunting is at the mercy of importation laws, tourism super sensitive etc). In terms of source of money, donors are just as fickle, which is why it has to be based on business, and if the developed world wants African biodiversity to remain,,met needs to convince its people to pay for it in the long term, and base it on good business such as tax rebates, carbon sequester, linking with the millennium fund etc.. ..the conditions should be created whereby the it is imperative for multinationals to do endowment funds for it....tourism is a side show and nice when you have it,but since it is only done on 5 % of the country it is a non entity in this regard.mwe are just lucky we have it where we are to prove the mechanism.
  10. Went to Dr Richard Leakey's event at karen club last night where he talked about wildlife, the Serengeti road and the Turkana Basin Institute. As expected he blew everyone away with his wit and humor and his incisive way of thinking ( especially the Adams rib story!) On the situation with wildlife in Kenya, he reckons we are in as bad a state as we were in the 1980's when he started KWS. But he did not offer a clear solution of how to turn around the solution other than standing up to corruption and bad governance. I asked him how important is the leasing of land conservancy model in addressing the attrition of wildlife for land use change, and his opinion was that because the tourism industry cannot be relied on to pay for it (I.e. Ebola,monopoly etc) and as there is no other source of money available to do this, he is 'ambivelant' about the model. The thing is, he talked of being able to find free financing for the $1 billion road bridge across the serengeti, and yet almost exactly this amount of money could secure most of the endangered wildlife corridors and wildlife habitats across the country for an entire year using the leasing model that has been pioneered by a few tour operators in the Mara conservancies. Consider that a billion dollars is less than the annual budget of any of the top 10 wildlife NGO 's, or about 2/3 the value of Kenya's tourism industry..why is this money not being put to better use for securing wildlife? The answer of course is to make tourism a more effective conservation finance tool, and to get the wildlife NGO's to allocate the funds they raise purely to leasing land for wildlife. In my view this is just as important ( if not more so) as the ivory / anti corruption issues to secure the future of wildlife in Kenya, and Dr Leakey's non-ambivalent and powerful voice could be key to making this happen.
  11. There is another way, and has been proven in kenya : the leasing of land to keep natural biodiversity and to control land use generally. This has proven to be 100% corruption free by not channeling the funds through any intermediary, and is retroactive based on results; if breaches to the agreements occur, then agree amounts are deducted from the total amount so that collective liability and action deals with the individual (s) breaking the deal ( poaching, illegal grazing of domestic stock, cutting trees etc) this system also gives the local folk enough income to have their survival needs taken care of so that thay can put their minds to no land based methods of earning and spending money..much as you and I do in our lives. The question of where to find the money for this leasing rears its ugly head at this juncture, and the answer is that it cannot be from philanthropy alone, and must come financial instruments that make it good business for multinationals , high net worth folks and normal people in the developed invest in AFRICAN biodiversity bonds ( or whatever we call them). These bonds must earn interest, give tax rebates, have carbon sequester value, and be linked to the millenium fund or its replacement. Also, wildlife ngo's should put at least 75% of their takings into leasing, and the tourism industry needs to be completely overhauled so that landowners are the first recipients of revenues, not the last as is currently the case across Africa. We have to think out side the box .
  12. We are looking for an enthusiastic person to help research and catalogue our family archives which are here in Nairobi , for a book that we are writing on our 100 years in Africa. It will be a coffee table book, lots of pics, the main story being of the family timeline through the generations, with additional stories and adventures described here and there throughout the book. Besides being about the history, the book will also be looking at the changed attitudes over the last 100 years towards wildlife by both westerners and Africans, and how the Cottar's represented and indeed often pioneered the changes in wildlife conservation methods and ideology during this time. We are looking for candidates who are passionate about safari and its history and not looking to get paid. They must have time - a couple of months at least - and can get themselves here to nairobi on their own steam. We are happy to provide room and board. Successful candidates would get a mention in the book as a research assistant to the main writer and the opportunity for a safari for three days to Cottar's 1920's Camp in the Maasai Mara after successful completion of the job.
  13. Thanks for the feedback. I guess we are coming to the point... Can we agree first that the real danger to wildlife throughout all of Africa is the loss of land for wildlife in the face of hardening land rights combined with the fact that landowners in Africa need to actually earn hard cash from their land for survival ? Is there any doubt at all amongst us conservationists on this forum that increasing human populations in Africa coupled with the increasing aspirations of these poor rural folk is the main reason that wildlife habitat is being converted to food production, is being deforested and that removal of wildlife is inevitable should this process continue? Ok. Can we also all agree that wildlife has to pay its way for its survival on land where landowners have final decision making power..and that this value has to be in terms that these rural people understand, in ways that actually earn money to pay for their school fees, for their food security and for their development needs into the there any disputing of this fact? Can we agree now that poor rural Africans WILL NOT keep wildlife on their land just because the rich world demands, or because government dictates it to them, , or because of Animal Rights activists making noise in the world media. Ok with this so far? Assuming you agree with the above, does it not naturally follow that wildlife has to therefore be commoditized to earn the required revenue for the renewable resource to outcompete with other alternative resources such as farming, monoculture domestic livestock and others? Assuming this is agreed, let's look at how wildlife can be commoditized, can earn actual cash money, and how can this money be distributed fairly. Wildlife has value. But because of the historic injustice if European royal game laws imposed in Africa it is largely valueless to landowners - but not to specialized operators in other industries ...primarily the hunting and photographic industries. The monopoly of both these wildlife uses and control by non landowners ( operators, agents, government) has had negative effects on wildlife historically because most tourism is focused on tiny areas on state owned protected areas, while In hunting, though it is more widespread and on more arid lands, the operators still largely control the terms as well as l favoring white landowners which doesn't endear the black majorities to the industry ( SA model) , or, in the case of Tanzania, only interacts and benefits government.. Let's agree that both tourism and hunting both add value to wildlife and can be done on a sustainable basis, but are not currently very effective in stopping the loss of wildlands and wildlife in Africa because landowners are last in line to benefit from these industries. Indeed even if these industries were restructured in favor of landowners, the amounts of money generated is way too low to have a meaningful impact on wildlife conservation through out Africa... . Derek Joubert recently put the figure required for this ( for wildlife to outcompete other landuses and to have a chance of survival) to be in the $400 billion per year range! Tourism just cannot touch this, and neither can hunting, but they can both help to finance some areas... My point was that we have to urgently find another way to finance wild land (and wildlife) in africa, and the only way is to start a new dialogue with the rich developed west and eastern populations of the world. The rich have to pay it, pure and simple, or if not, allow wildlife to be truly commoditized with sustainable utilization of wildlife including hunting, tourism, sales of meat, hides, even ivory and rhino horn.. Species and populations that are out of endangered category have to be liberalized and owned by landowners, and wildlife conservation will be the byproduct of developing humans. Some may think that huge amounts of money are being provided by the rich west for wildlife Conservation through donations to wildlife NGO's , but the truth is that very little of this money gets to the ground to make a difference, being used instead for preservation management strategies ( fencing, drones, equipment, helicopters etc) that are used primarily to secure designated protected areas and private conservancies; mostly areas that are under the obligation of governments to pay (sheldrick trust finances the KWS to operate tsavo national park for instance). Furthermore, this NGO money is , like tourism and hunting , mostly monopolized by outsiders, under the control of outsiders, and ineffective on an Africa wide basis for wildlife conservation. ( of course there are some localized exceptions to this generalization). The big answer to all this is for African governments to come together for a pan African approach for getting the west ( and east) to fund land for wildlife, failure of which the west should not lobby against or otherwise disrupt the political process to liberalize wildlife industries in all these countries...indeed it seems that Congo have already told the west to pay $1 billion to stop them from clear cutting one of their big forests.. I advocate some kind of biodiversity value ( at dollar per ha per year rates) to wild land in Africa, the value being arrived at by land use studies done on a regular basis, and the money distributed directly to the landowners under a conservancy management agreement by direct phone banking ( to cut out corruption). These conservancies need to be able to use wildlife on sustainable basis where appropriate, including hunting and meat production..anything to make wildlife pay on a sustainable basis. Government of Africa need to make bi lateral agreements with the countries of the west (and east) developed countries that companies from these countries that leasing land for biodiversity in Africa get a rebate on their tax in their countries. This is one way of redressing the wealth imbalance between the north and south.. Much to chew on, much to do....
  14. To secure the wildlife around camps in the greater Mara ecosystem, many lodge owners have over the last few years leased land for wildlife conservancies giving them the possibility to better control the wildlife experience for their guests while paying the Maasai landowners to keep the wildlife alive on their land and averting the 'de-wilding' process that normally happens as land is converted to food production...this conservancy movement has shown that leasing land to remain extensive and open, unfenced and inhabited by a wide variety of wild animal species has given the landowners very good alternative to farming and land fragmentation, and it has been good for the local Maasai people, their culture, the wildlife and the tourism industry. However, with the security issues the country has recently had to face and which undoubtedly has the potential to reduce tourism arrivals to the country, some conservancies may not be able to meet their payment commitments to their landowners....The consequences of not having these conservancy payments underwritten and guaranteed is clear; it can result in the loss of trust by landlords, reversal of all the good conservation work that has been achieved and may well prompt the removal of wildlife from these conservancies and conversion of this land to farming. Should wildlife in Kenya - or anywhere for that matter - be dependent only on the sensitive and fickle tourism industry ? What would give the wildlife conservancies more financial resilience?
  15. Sangeeta, yes, we need to think out of the box and change the tourism industry itself to meet the need for more revenues getting to the landowners so they can tolerate or even thrive with their wildlife.. Let us know if you want to discuss this further.. For you just starting up it may be an advantage to be marketing safaris in a different way on a different priority and financial arrangement.. It's important that agents like yourselves who sell Africa year around are the main promoters of the changes needed to make wildlife valuable to the real landowners. As you can see, i am open to new ideas, and have a few of my own. I have been following the elephant / CITES papers and discussions such as from the kenya elephant alliance.. These guys are just not in the same country that I live in clearly.. they are so out of touch with the reality and pressures of elephants in kenya its truly unbelievable.. Sure, have controls and regulation on trade, but then don't hide the fact that Kenyan landowners simply do not want elephants on their land, and then what do you do with the elephants then? - they will not tolerate the cost of wildlife it there is no REAL benefit to them. This aspect is hardly mentioned in all of their policy papers, and when it is, they refer to ' ecotourism' benefits which - being in the business myself - in kenya this is only applicable on 30% of the land area of the country - what about the rest of the country? How do these activists propose to keep elephants alive when they eat the food of people, when they kill children on the way to school ? When the political cost is so huge that politicians have to remove elephants wholesale? I can see many of the very large parks and reserves in danger of being de- gazetted as well. When behavioral scientists and people who do not own land in africa or suffer wildlife damage themselves can steer world opinion on how to manage elephants and influence policy such as I am seeing is happening at CITES today, elephants have not got a chance.. I know it seems counter intuitive and contrary to all the press we get, but it is the simple truth. Kenyan Landowners should be representing kenya at such forums.. I guess we all want the same thing ... Elephants to survive .. But if the animal rights groups position is to deny options to landowner on their right to use the wildlife or if they are not willing to put their money where their mouth is and foot the bill for the opportunities lost ( through leasing land for conservancies for example) then they themselves are the wildlife problem, and there is no point in talking to them at all.. The Kenyan people should be organizing themselves properly and sidelining these self important animal rights players, and making their own decisions on their wildlife. thankfully, the new constitution promotes devolution, and I have a feeling there will be big changes in the not too distant future, and about time too..

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