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Chinese wildlife conservationist is adopted by Maasai community
by Christine Lagat NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Globally renowned for preserving their rich cultural heritage and co-existing harmoniously with wild animals, Kenya’s Maasai people are the embodiment of the east African nation’s grandeur that attracts foreign visitors.

The pastoral community has for centuries roamed in the expansive Kenyan plains that are home to iconic wildlife species.

A zealous attachment to their culture has nevertheless not detached Maasai people from the rest of the world and they have always extended a hand of friendship to visitors.

The warmth and sincerity of Maasai people attracted Zhuo Qiang, a 42-year-old Chinese graduate of English and Literature who has lived with the pastoralists for the last four years.

Zhuo Qiang’s first visit to Kenya in 2004 marked a milestone in the life of an ambitious youth with a burning desire to make a difference in the world.

Growing up in China, Zhuo learnt about Kenya’s wildlife heritage through documentaries and felt honored to visit a country that was home to iconic herbivores, reptiles, birds and carnivores.

The founder and Chairman of Mara Conservation Fund (MCF) is a household name having pioneered outstanding wildlife conservation projects in the world famous Mara ecosystem.

The Chinese has in the last four years pitched tent in the Maasai Mara ecosystem to promote innovative models of conserving big game.


Zhuo Qiang founder of Mara Conservation Fund | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) — Simba introduces a painting created by Chinese and Kenyan children at a primary school in Ol Kinyei Conservancy, Kenya. Simba, a 43-year-old Chinese man, is also called Zhuo Qiang. He founded Mara Conservation Fund, a non-governmental organization dedicated to protecting lions and other animals as well as saving their natural habitat. Over the years, Simba and his foundation have been offering helping hands to the conservancy as well as the local Maasai people in a bid to save the wildlife. XINHUA PHOTO - PAN SIWEI


To succeed in his vocation, Zhuo enlisted the local Maasai tribe that has a strong grip on wildlife species and their habitat.

On August 22, Zhuo was officially adopted as a son of the Maasai’s Ol Kinyei conservation group owing to his unwavering friendship with the pastoralists.

He was feted in an elaborate ceremony attended by local elites, conservationists and Chinese friends.

During an interview with Xinhua, Zhuo said that becoming a member of OlKinyei community reaffirmed the Maasai people appreciated his wildlife conservation initiatives.

"It was an auspicious occasion to be initiated as a member of the famous and large Ol Kinyei community. The Maasai people have welcomed me as their own and I promise to reciprocate their kind gesture through promoting wildlife conservation," Zhuo told Xinhua.

Clan elders presided over the elaborate ceremony to enlist Zhuo as their new member.

The rituals were rich in symbolism and created a spectacle to an estimated 150 foreign and local guests.

Zhuo told Xinhua that 22 Chinese friends graced the occasion to crown him as an adopted son of the Maasai community’s Ol Kinyei conservation group.

As an adopted son of Ol Kinyei community, Zhuo is entitled to a host of privileges that will make his conservation work easier.

"My bond with the Maasai community will be strengthened and I desire to live with them longer to pursue my cherished vocation of conserving wildlife, said Zhuo.

Chinese well-wishers have generously contributed to Zhuo’s wildlife conservation projects in the Mara ecosystem.

In the last four years, Mara Conservation Fund has initiated novel projects to conserve lions courtesy of donations from Chinese nationals.

On August 10th, Chinese well-wishers donated anti-poaching gear to Kenya’s wildlife conservancies through Mara Conservation fund.

As an adopted member of Ol Kinyei clan, Zhuo feels rejuvenated to pursue a cause he cherishes.

"I have not only received a badge of honor from people I have always worked closely with but feels re-energized to mobilize resources to support conservation work in the Mara ecosystem," Zhuo noted.

His grand future plans will revolve around proactive engagement with Kenya’s wildlife agency and local communities to revitalize war against poaching.

Elders from Maasai community hailed Zhuo’s tireless dedication to wildlife conservation.

Simon Nkoitoi, the Senior Warden at Ol Kinyei conservancy, said a partnership with Mara Conservation Fund has unleashed huge benefits to local communities.

"Through partnership with Mara Conservation Fund, we have received a new car, motorbikes, and binoculars to enable rangers patrol the park effectively," Nkoitoi told Xinhua, adding that lion proof housing structures financed by Mara Conservation Fund have reduced human wildlife conflicts.

By enlisting Zhuo as their member, Ol Kinyei community is upbeat wildlife conservation will improve a notch higher.

Nkoitoi noted that Zhuo has mobilized resources to support community projects like schools and water pans.

"We are proud of Simba (Zhuo’s nickname) and his work here is exemplary. He has supported education of Maasai children through renovation of schools alongside donation of books and laptops," said Nkoitoi

He added that conservancies supported by Mara Conservation Fund have created new jobs for Maasai youth.



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