Ecosystems

 

The Movable Bomas Program

The aim of this program is to help Maasai livestock owners manage their herds, while avoiding over-grazing and human-wildlife conflicts. A movable boma is an excellent solution to benefit both the human population, livestock, and wildlife. Your contribution will support new bomas and transport of the existing bomas to new grazing areas.

 

What is a movable boma

Traditionally the Maasai people take their livestock into their village during nighttime to protect them from predators. They usually keep them in bomas (mobile enclosures), built from thorny bushes, in the center of the village. In the morning they let the cattle out of the bomas so that they can graze in the surrounding area.

A movable boma is temporary metal fencing positioned to create an enclosure that livestock owners, in this case Maasai, can move to different grazing locations. A tractor is used to transport the pieces of fencing to the next location identified for grazing. The moveable boma is much easier to transport and tends to be larger than the traditional bomas made of thorny bushes. The metal fencing can be reassembled with ease in comparison to the Maasai having to find and cut down other thorny bushes to make a new traditional boma. Predators are much more easily kept out of moveable bomas due to the strength of the metal and increased height of the fencing.

Why are movable bomas important

The pastoralist tradition and lifestyle of the Maasai culture includes shepherds herding livestock (today, cattle, goats and sheep) in open areas of land according to seasons of the year, and changing availability of fresh water and quality of pasture. However, instead of continuing their nomadic lifestyle, increasing numbers of the Maasai people are settling down in villages, but still need to graze their livestock. The herders need to stay close to the village when they graze their livestock because they need to have the ability to return to the village each night to protect their animals. As a result, sometimes, the continuous use of pasture near the village results in overgrazing. The overgrazed land may no longer be suitable as a food source for wildlife such as zebra and gazelles. This creates overall damage to the ecosystem of the Mara as well as direct negative effects on sustainability of wildlife.

The constant moving of herds a long way from the village also increases the risk of attacks from carnivores, which then leads to an increasing conflict between human and wildlife. Very often this leads to the death of the predator. In addition, many of the animals lose body weight due to the constant movement of the animals to and from the village, which results in decreased milk production in dairy cows and meat for food.

The movable bomas have been tested in the Mara North Conservancy with good results and are widely accepted by the Maasai community in the area. As a result of the successful introduction of moveable bomas into the Mara the use of them to protect livestock and wildlife habitat the use of these bomas has become a very important component of an appropriate mix of tradition and change in Maasai pastoral life. They have become a part of a fixed grazing plan in the Mara North Conservancy that balances needs for adequate pasturing, regeneration time of grass cover, and variables such as weather conditions.

 

 

How can you contribute

A donation to the Movable Boma Program provides funding to build a new boma or to assist in the transportation costs to move an existing boma from an area with decreasing condition of pasture grass to another area suitable for grazing.

The bomas are manufactured locally in the Mara region and the cost is determined with according to the best available market price. KBCT and its partners are part of the budget decision-making process. The movable bomas can make a very positive impact on the livelihoods of the Maasai and health and welfare of both livestock and wildlife in the Mara.