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Paper short abstract:
The Covid-19 pandemic was problematic for the Maasai Mara conservancy. During January - May 2021, stakeholders were interviewed giving insights into how the model Maasai Mara conservancy potentially increase local preparedness for external shocks and also develop domestic tourism.
Paper long abstract:
The Maasai Mara conservancy model is an alternative to state-managed national parks, with a combination of conservancies, partner organisations and companies and local stakeholders. What makes the model different is the status of landowners as local partners - with linked and direct payments from tourism revenues. However, the Covid-19 pandemic suspended the international tourism on which the conservancies rely. The unfolding situation also brought to the fore debates about equity, sharing and responsibilities of different actors. In a series of conversations during January - May 2021, stakeholders were interviewed to understand how the Covid-19 crisis impacted activities in the Maasai Mara conservancies. Some already existing problems were emphasised by the impact of the pandemic, while new ideas about income generation emerged locally. Landowners experimented with additional activities relating to their cattle, and conservancies looked inwards, targeting domestic tourism. The most prominent theme arising from these conversations was that of equity - between tourism partners and landowners, relating to the rights of women and to the place of Maasai youth in the future of the model. The colonial legacy of wildlife conservation also created discussions around the exclusion of local tourists and the underlying biases that may exist. The study gives some insights into how the model Maasai Mara conservancy potentially increase local preparedness for external shocks and also develop domestic tourism.
The impacts of Covid-19 on tourism and conservation in dryland communities