Tea time. A minibus, called Matatu (shared cheap taxi), drives into camp and out pile one after another the Mbulia Group Ranch Committee members.
The mess tent is quickly turned into a conference room and more tea is put on the brew. We sit down and the Committee Secretary, Bishop Ngolo, says a prayer for us all. Introductions follow and everyone states their name and involvement in Swahili. Once we have done the round, we discuss the way forward with the project and the support we will require for this from the community.
Water will have to be found, game scouts recruited, roads built for access and game driving, waterholes dug out, community projects identified and funding sourced. It is a huge opportunity for the Mbulia Group Ranch members to better their livelihoods through training and employment by New African Territories and other alternative income sources through community projects. It will be a challenge though to stop the illegal use of natural resource from the conservancy land, such as poaching of wildlife for meat, timber cutting, charcoal burning and honey hunting.
The meeting is very cordial, even more than that as it has a celebratory atmosphere. Everyone is happy to finally be pulling on one string and finding a way forward together. It has taken four years of negotiations between Amara Conservation, New African Territories and the Group Ranch to finally convince the Mbulia committee that they can only gain from this venture.
At long last the tide has changed and we can fully rely on support every step of the way from the community, and in return they have lots of opportunities coming their way due to the project.