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A 1996 study comparing wildlife – people interactions from two decades before to the current situation, in southeastern Kajiado District, between Amboseli and Tsavo West National Parks, found an increasing number of conflicts occurring.  Many of these conflicts relate to the increase in agriculture as a livelihood, including among former pastoralists.  In 1977, for example, access to grazing land and water was not an issue reported to by farmers as one in which conflicts arose with wildlife.  In 1996, however, 13 percent of farmers responding identified this as a problem, indicating an increasing competition for open land and land near rivers, streams, and swamps.  Similarly, no herders identified wildlife “trampling crops” and “bothering people” as issues in 1977, yet 20 years later, 49 percent of herders said the former was a problem, and 58 percent identified the latter (Campbell/LUCID 1999a).  

5.1.5. Access to range/habitat.

There is an active debate occurring not only within Kenya but also throughout East and Southern Africa, about the issue of wildlife habitat, animal migration, protected areas, and conflict with livestock and agricultural interests.  In Kenya, numerous nongovernmental institutions support KWS in its effort to protect not only wildlife in national parks, but also in surrounding areas, common lands, and privately held lands and reserves.  Increased conflict is a consequence of decreased habitat needs for wildlife and increased needs of humans for farm and rangeland.  

According to data from one central district (Mbeere), which is seen as experiencing trends that are typically occurring in the country’s densely populated semi-arid areas, immigration from higher-productivity areas and in particular, changes in tenure law have forced extremely rapid subdivision of the land.  The result has been that nearly all natural vegetative wildlife habitat is now gone from that area (Olson/LUCID 2000).  

The consequences for wildlife are clear; when habitat is cleared, animals either move on or they gradually reduce in number and die out.  Farmers face the loss in directly economic ways; for example, the lack of wild plant nectar in the study area mentioned above prevents the establishment or maintenance of bee colonies.

Some areas have seen some wildlife numbers increase due to increased habitat.  Laikipia District is a case study.  This catchment area lies between two major rivers and comprises about 20,000 km2.  This rather unique area's lack of protected lands has not affected its wildlife negatively, according to Georgiadis (2000).  Local landowners have worked with research institutions, communities, and government to establish an open range area as wildlife habitat, with the long-term goal of building a new center of safari tourism.  For example, costly systems to protect the highly endangered rhino have been established on private ranches there, where commercial profits from tourism make the protection efforts worthwhile.

Land use in Laikipia is following three major trends:  expanding populations of poor farmers are moving gradually down from montane areas to find land; outside individuals and organizations are buying large areas of wildlife rangelands; and insecurity in rangeland areas is on the rise due to transboundary cattle raiding.  In this context, landowners organized to join their land areas without fencing each, hoping to draw tourism and its benefits to the area.  Communities are being encouraged to participate in this effort by establishing lodges and other safari facilities.  

Numbers of endangered species, including Grevy's zebra, have been rising in this area, while others decline.  See Table 2 for a sample of data for herbivores provided by Mpala Research Centre, based in Laikipia District.  

Table 2.  Herbivore counts for Laikipia


Apr. 1985

Sep. 1987

Feb. 1997

Feb. 1999

Kara PagePage 1110/23/2006

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