Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Oldonyonokie/Olkeri Maasai Pastoralist Heritage





Site location:  Oldonyonyokie and Olkeri Group Ranches, Southern Kenya

Area of GIAHS: 160 000 km2

Population working for this system: 500 000 persons

Topological Characteristics: scarce fertile soil resources

Climatic Classification: arid dry climatic conditions

Ethnic Groups/Indigenous People: Maasai community

Primary Income Sources: agropastoralism system


In Southern Kenya, Maasai have developed an agro pastoral system for centuries. Despite the scarce water and grazing land availability, Maasai have succeeded in adapting their systems to this area satisfying their needs and evolving with the cities nearby. Strongly linked to wildlife this agro pastoral system is not competing with it but functioning in synergy.

Their system integrates at the same time animals such as buffalos, goats and sheep with endemic species and food plants such as maize and beans. Besides, Maasai community is highly organized splitting the tasks concerning graze land research, water management, livestock movements etc. Depending on the climate, the needs of the animals and the community requires an important knowledge and understanding of nature.

With this fragile environment and managing of lands, Maasai have shaped and maintained the landscapes for ages. Sustainable and respectful to the wildlife, Maasai agro pastoral systems must be preserve not to lose their incredible knowledge of nature but also to maintain the magnificence of the landscape.