Local communities and wildlife interactions the case study of Kitengela wildlife dispersal area of Nairobi national park
Ngumbi, Emmanuel I
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Many protected areas in Kenya are inextricably linked to their adjacent areas/ dispersal areas by the movement of migratory species. Despite of this ecological importance the functional relationships between protected areas and their adjacent areas or dispersal areas were not taken into consideration during the establishment of these protected areas. This is well demonstrated in the Nairobi National park ecosystem through the Kitengela wildlife dispersal area. Socio-economic activities being carried out within the dispersal areas have great implications on sustainable conservation and well being of many protected ecosystems in Kenya. The study aimed at generating information on the role of local community involvement in promoting sustainable management of wildlife ecosystems. This was based on the assumption that people who live in direct contact with wildlife hold the key to sustainable management of the wildlife ecosystems. The second objective was to assess the vegetation status of the Kitengela area in relation to the human settlement and activities pattern. The information gathered on vegetation status would help to determine the current vegetation status of Kitengela area and form basis for future ecological trends for proper monitoring and evaluation in the greater ecosystem . The area was first stratified in terms of human settlement and human activity patterns within four locations within the Kitengela wildlife dispersal area of Nairobi National Park. The study was conducted using questionnaires as the main tool for primary data collection for socio-economic data; a sample size of 50 households was selected by using simple random sampling procedure; while vegetation data was collected along 3 transects running parallel to each other which measured 0.5 kilometres long. A total of 10 sampling points were randomly selected along each transect. The data was then analyzed using descriptive statistics in comparing frequencies and percentages. Inferential statistics was applied with the use of spearman's rank correlation and students T - test. The study suggests that, where new and severe human activity patterns such as settlements, quarrying, fencing and urban sprawl from Kitengela Athi river townships have put a greater constraint on sustainable conservation of the greater Nairobi National Park ecosystem. Due to these human activities the wildlife dispersal area is constantly dwindling and affecting the biodiversity status of this ecosystem. The study also demonstrated that sustainable wildlife ecosystem management can be achieved through providing tangible benefits to land owners for supporting wildlife conservation efforts. There was negative correlation between the membership of the lease programme and fencing of the Nairobi National Park at 0.01 significance level. The conclusions drawn from the study shows that active involvement and provision of tangible benefits to adjacent communities promotes sustainable conservation of many protected ecosystems. Hence adjacent communities goodwill on ecosystem resource use is needed for appropriate wildlife conservation. The recommendations include an integrated ecosystem management involving all wildlife stakeholders in Kitengela area especially the local Maasai community. Developing a land master plan which integrates the local livestock production economy with ecotourism activities and sharing of conservation benefits .