Campi ya Kanzi was built in 1996 as a partnership with the Maasai of Kuku Group Ranch to promote environmental conservation and sustainable community development through ecotourism. The Maasai landowners benefit directly from tourism through employment and conservation fees.
Campi ya Kanzi’s founder, Luca Belpietro, wrote his thesis in economics on “Wildlife as a Renewable Resource in Kenya: Environment Conservation and Sustainable Development.”
Campi ya Kanzi is the result of that thesis: a joint venture with the Maasai of Kuku to transform their wilderness and wildlife into economic resources that generate dividends for the community.
Human population in Kenya has increased tremendously in the last century, from just less than 1,300,000 in 1900 to nearly 44,000,000 in 2013, contributing to increase poverty and malnutrition.
This unsustainable growth has put tremendous pressure on both the wilderness and the wildlife.
Maasailand is, traditionally, land where human beings and wildlife have co-existed. In fact the most visited National Parks in East Africa were Maasai land and are surrounded by Maasai land (Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Maasai Mara, Amboseli). With 90% of the wildlife population of Amboseli National Park living in private Maasai land for part of the year, it is crucial that Maasai landlords earn economic benefits by protecting the wilderness status of their land.
That is our model of ecotourism: to make sure wilderness with thriving wildlife generates income for the Maasai landlords, to ensure the land where they have lived for hundreds of years, is protected for the generations to come.
Ultimately the protection of the environment, with its three aspects –wilderness, wildlife and culture – is what Campi ya Kanzi stands for.
We believe in the concept of “Payment for Ecosystem Services.” Campi ya Kanzi visitors who come to enjoy the Kuku wilderness contribute a $116 conservation fee per person per day. The funds support Wildlife Pays, an MWCT compensation program that reimburses Maasai herders for livestock killed by predators. In return, the Maasai promise not to retaliate by hunting the predators. Although the Maasai once saw lions and leopards as a nuisance, they now value these animals for the interest and income they generate among tourists.
We also believe that the Maasai community needs an advocate. In 2000, Luca and his wife Antonella founded the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT). The Trust has branches in Kenya, the United States, and Italy. The President of the U.S. branch is Edward Norton: United Nations Ambassador for Biodiversity (appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in 2010), founder of Crowdrise.com, member of the President Obama Committee for Arts and Humanities and acclaimed filmmaker (actor, producer, writer, and/or director for more than 30 films; nominated for three Academy Awards for acting).
Campi ya Kanzi has received ample recognition for its eco-friendly and socially responsible practices. For a full list of awards and certifications, please click here.