On the 28th August, Kenya introduced a countrywide ban on plastic bags as part of the government's commitment to control environmental pollution. This is a total ban on the use, manufacture and importation of all plastic bags for commercial and household packaging and, as such, all travellers to Kenya with any kind of plastic bag (including duty free shopping bags) are required to leave them at point of entry.
Almost 24 million plastic bags are used each month across the country. As a result, plastic waste management is one of the biggest challenges to major cities and towns in Kenya. The Masai Mara ecosystem, one of Kenya's greatest wildlife destinations, is no exception to this problem. Plastic bags - mainly created for a single-use purpose - become litter very quickly. As they don't degrade, they not only pollute the stunning scenery of the National Parks but they are very hazardous to birds and wildlife, including the livestock of the Masai who end up ingesting the plastic.
At the forefront of conservation in the Masai Mara is Basecamp Explorer, a responsible tourism operator with a vision that environmental protection and community empowerment should be equal. In 2010, Basecamp helped to create the privatised Mara Naboisho region of the Masai Mara with 500 local Masai landowners, where two of their camps are located, creating a model for conservation for National Parks across the world.
Basecamp Explorer's three tented camps in the Masai Mara and Mara Naboisho; Basecamp Masai Mara, Eagle View and Wilderness Camp, are all eco-friendly and operate a strict waste management, collection and recycling programme that benefits the local Masai communities. Basecamp also use recyclable signature glass bottles instead of the plastic water bottles at their camps. The glass bottles are carefully sanitised after each use for re-use and they are proud to offer all guests fresh local water every day.
It is because of their efforts towards conservation that Basecamp Masai Mara is among the list of nominees for the 2017 Eco-Warrior Awards. The 'Decent Work and Economic Growth Category', for which Basecamp have received their nomination, highlights operations that promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all. The winners are announced at the end of September.