Socio-economic and ecological attributes in eco-tourism: a comparison between two group ranches in Laikipia District of Kenya
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This study involved the analysis of socio-economic and ecological attributes of ecotourism as a land use for group ranches ill dispersal areas It involved a comparison of two group ranches, 11'Ngwcsi and Makurian located in Mukogndo division of Laikipia district, II' Ngwesi ranch operates eco-tourism ill conjunction with livestock production, and the neighbouring Makurian group ranch, operates only livestock production. The objectives were to analyze the socio-economic attributes or ceo-tourism as compared to pastoralism on local communities and also analyze the ecological attributes of ecotourism as compared to pastoralism based on woody species and wildlife attributes. It was hypothesized that the socio-economic attributes pertaining to eco-tourism and pastoralism combined are not different from those pertaining to pastoralism on its own and also the vegetation attributes pertaining to eco-tourism and pastoralism combined are not different from those pertaining to pastoralism on its own. The results showed that some of the socio-economic household variables were significantly different (P<O.05). The household variables which were significantly different include household size, number of family members living away form manyatta, number of livestock kept, livestock equity, livestock sales, livestock deaths, number and value of livestock lost to predation, household income and number of livestock loaned to relatives and total acreage or land cultivated. The ecological data collected comprised vegetation and wildlife resources. Results showed that there were significant differences (P<O.05) in the vegetation attributes of cover and density while there was no significant difference (P>O.05) for species diversity. The wildlife data collected were based on total ground count and results showed that I1'Ngwesi group ranch had more wild animals than Makurian group ranch. The results suggest that the practice of eco-tourism in Il'Ngwesi group ranch has both positive and negative socio-economic and ecological impacts. The positive impacts outweighed the negative impacts From this study, it can be concluded that group ranches can practise multiple use or natural resources through the integration eco-tourism/ conservation with pastoralism if properly managed. The recommendation is that Il'Ngwesigroup ranch and its neighboring ranches, such as the Makurian should form an association/conservancy for better management of the natural resources and for marketing the eco-tourism potential of Mukogodo Division in Laikipia district as an ideal eco-tourism destination area which can be replicated by other group ranches in the country.