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Annex 5.  Constraints in Potential USAID NRM Program Focal Areas

1. Laikipia-Samburu

Located just north of the equator in the rain-shadow of Mt. Kenya, the Laikipia – Samburu complex is one of the very few areas in Kenya where wildlife numbers – certain species – are increasing. One factor in this is the expectation and partial realization of a stream of benefits from wildlife accruing to private and community landholders.  However, the stream of benefits has been well below potential, and there is an urgent need for concerted action to ensure a viable future for the area’s wildlife.

Despite creeping agriculture, about 70 percent of the Laikipia plateau is large-scale ranchland, the rest being occupied by Mukogodo Maasai and, to the north, the Samburu pastoralists.

6.8. Key Conservation values of Laikipia –Samburu

Rare Northern Savanna Species including Grevy’s Zebra, Wild Dog, and Black Rhino.

Wet Montane Forests,  (Kenya, Aberdares) and Dry Woodland forests (Ngare Ndare)

Elephant migration routes

Ewaso Nyiro Riverine System

Woodland Acacia Mosaic


We identify the following as the key threats to wildlife conservation in this focal area:

Security: the area suffers from intermittent serious security issues caused by banditry and cattle rustling (particularly in Samburu), politically instigated conflict (particularly over trust lands), and the widely available arsenal of firearms from the conflicts in Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Land tenure: insecure land tenure in some units, sub-division of group ranches and growth of smallholder agriculture are a major threat to wildlife conservation in this area. In parts of Laikipia smallholder agriculture is proving non-viable in economic terms, and there is an opportunity to reverse some sub-division back into cooperatively managed larger land units, e.g. the Sipili and Ol Morani units in western Laikipia.

Perceptions of wildlife: While wildlife is tolerated for economic reasons on some individual ranches, which are making significant sums out of eco-tourism, other landholders, particularly smallholders are usually highly intolerant of wildlife, which are seen as presenting a serious threat to their lives and livelihoods.  The threat to wildlife conservation lies in the fact that large land areas are needed to support thriving wildlife communities – small land areas that are wildlife intolerant can be a serious threat.  

Competition for resource use between land units, particularly for water: at present the most fought-over limited resource in this area is water.  Excessive upstream take-off and inefficient use is threatening downstream cattle, agriculture and wildlife.  Water availability varies from year to year and no charges are made for its use.

Lack of economic value realized from wildlife resources: local people currently make very little from their wildlife resources in this area, and have few incentives to care for wildlife.  The restrictive regulatory environment means that landowners have few rights over wildlife resources and eco-tourism is the primary wildlife business opportunity.  Some cropping is allowed under Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) quotas, but the markets for cropping products are tightly restricted and prices are low.  Hunting is banned, except for game birds.  Where wildlife businesses are successful, it is estimated that less than 5% of the revenue generated flows into the local economy.

Weak infrastructure: the poor quality of the road network across the area and the lack of telephones, even in towns, create a poor environment for tourism and business development across the area.

Kara PagePage 4110/23/2006

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