Pastoralists: wildlife conservationists in Tanzania?
The way that Maasai pastoralists manage natural resource has a big influence on landscapes and wildlife habitats in northern Tanzania. This comes out of a study by Fred Nelson Natural conservationists? Evaluating the impact of pastoralist land use practices on Tanzania’s wildlife economy as part of IIED’s project on “Total economic value of pastoralism”. Pastoralists follow locally devised rules designed to manage and conserve key resources such as pastures and water sources. Reserving pasture for dry-season grazing is vital in their land-management systems, providing a ‘grass bank’ for livestock to consume during the long dry season when forage is scarce and the animals are stressed because they have little water. Maintaining grazing reserves and other pastoralist management practices help to conserve wildlife on pastoralist lands. The available evidence suggests that pastoralists and wildlife continue to co-exist in northern Tanzanian savanna ecosystems, with pastoralists having few significant negative and some positive effects on wildlife density and diversity. Wildlife relies to a larger extent on land managed by pastoralists immediately adjacent to state-protected conservation areas. An article derived from this study is also published in the special issue of the journal Pastoralism on “Wildlife and pastoralism”: Natural conservationists?