Clarifying competition between wildlife & livestock in East Africa
The article in the journal Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice (2012), “Clarifying competition: the case of wildlife and pastoral livestock in East Africa”, looks at competition in using grazing resources in East Africa. In the literature, the term “competition” related to wildlife and pastoral livestock has been applied to any degree of overlap in habitat or diet of the animals. The authors examine three necessary conditions for competition to occur – a shared resource, a limiting resource and a negative influence on resource availability – in the context of the drylands. They argue that there is a need to differentiate between competition over a fixed resource, as happens in the dry season, and competition that is mediated through vegetative response to grazing at an earlier time, as happens in the wet season. They recommend that, for research to support decision-making in land-use management, it should focus on: the nutritional implications for wildlife and livestock as forage quantity decreases; the vegetative responses to grazing within and across seasons; and specific grazing patterns and locations at different times of the year. Conventional thinking in East Africa leads to over-estimation of competition between wildlife and livestock and to excluding wildlife from pastureland and/or livestock from protected areas – decisions that will increase the vulnerability of the overall wildlife-livestock-grassland system.