Pastoral livelihoods and wildlife revenues in East Africa

The East African drylands are home to both pastoralists and wildlife, attracting substantial conservation and tourism revenues, yet the pastoralists remain poor and the wildlife is declining. Donor interventions seek “win-win” solutions through conservation with development. The article “Pastoralist livelihoods and wildlife revenues in East Africa: a case for coexistence?” in a special issue of the journal Pastoralism on “Wildlife and pastoralism” outlines how pastoral livelihoods are changing and summarises trends in wildlife population, tourism revenues, and conservation and development initiatives in East Africa. The extent to which wildlife revenues contribute to pastoral livelihoods was explored in a multi-site study of Maasai livelihoods. Livestock contribute half or more of the mean annual income in all sites, with off-farm work and farming ranking second and third, respectively, except in Mara, where wildlife-based income contributes about 20% income across all wealth categories. In most sites, significant areas have been set aside for conservation and tourism, but wildlife contributes <5% income to only a few households. Few wildlife-derived benefits flow to pastoralists, while conservation restrictions constrain their production and coping strategies, undermining potential for coexistence with wildlife. In exceptional circumstances, significant wildlife revenue may reach pastoral households, but full social and ecological implications of the associated conservancy agreements remain unclear (summarised abstract).

Posted on 3 March 2013 in Pastoralism & Natural Resources, Pastoralist Livelihoods & Nutrition