Trade-offs between pastoralism & wildlife conservation in Kenya
Some pastoralists in the East African rangelands diversify into wildlife conservation and tourism in order to supplement livestock-based livelihoods and to spread risk. Tourism can be an alternative source of income during drought, but may reduce access to grazing resources, and wildlife may destroy crops and injure, kill or transmit disease to livestock or people. The paper “Trade-offs for climate-resilient pastoral livelihoods in wildlife conservancies in the Mara ecosystem, Kenya” by Claire Bedelian and Joseph Ogutu, published in Pastoralism: Research, Policy and Practice 2017 7:10 (22pp, DOI 10.1186/s13570-017-0085-1) investigates whether wildlife conservancies in the Maasai Mara can provide an alternative for pastoralists that mitigates risks and maintains resilience in a changing climate.
The paper analyses how conservancies contribute to and integrate with pastoral livelihoods, and how pastoralists manage their livestock in response to conservancies. It finds that conservancy payments can provide an important, reliable, year-round source of income and prevent households from selling their animals during stress and for cash needs. Conservancies also retain grass banks during the dry season and provide opportunities for pastoralists to access good-quality forage. However, conservancies reduce access to large areas of former grazing land and restrict herd mobility. This affects pastoralists’ ability to access seasonally variable resources in a flexible way. Conflicts between livestock grazing and conservancies may heighten during drought times. Income from land leases is not more than the contribution of livestock. Moreover, income is based on land ownership, which raises issues of equity: women and other marginalised groups are left out.