Assessing Trade-offs Between Pastoral Economy And Wildlife Conservation In The Ewaso Nyiro Basin, Northern Kenya: A Case Study Of Naibung'a And Namunyak Community Conservancies
Naibung'a and Namunyak community conservancies as case studies have resulted from the efforts of the Samburu and Maasai communities aimed at incorporating wildlife as a land use into their communally owned livestock ranches in the Ewaso Nyiro Ecosystem. The idea is to balance the use of pastureland for livestock production in co-existence with high diversity and biomass of wildlife, thus allowing for development of eco-tourism enterprises that contributes towards livelihoods. This study was therefore designed to assess trade-offs between pastoral economy and wildlife conservation in community owned conservancies in Ewaso Nyiro Ecosystem. The study was carried out in Naibung'a Conservancy, Mukogodo Division, Laikipia District and Namunyak wildlife conservancy in Wamba Division, Samburu East District. The specific objectives were: (1) Determine the socio-economic and cultural factors that promote sustainable integration of livestock keeping and wildlife conservation. (2) Characterizes knowledge, attitudes and practices of Maasai and Samburu communities in relation to wildlife conservation and diseases of public health significance (3) Determine benefits and constraints of community conservation initiatives. A variety of tools and methods used were based on the principles of participatory rural appraisal (PRA). Semi-structured questionnaires were administered to 108 randomly selected households during the transect walk. Maps and photos of the conservancies were taken focusing especially the contrast between the conserved areas and the grazing land. Two focused group discussion (n=10) were held with NRM committees. Twenty Semi-structured interviews (SSIs) was applied obtain information on benefits and constraints of community based conservation. Key informant interviews (n=20) were conducted with area local chiefs and Natural Resource Managers from Naibung'a and Namunyak Conservancies. Community participatory approaches to wildlife conservation have significant influence on the successful natural resource management of Naibung'a and Namunyak community conservancies (F= 10.751, d.f= 32, 77, p= < 0.000). There is also high positive correlation between these variables and community conservation success (r2= 0.817, n= 108 households). Similarly, conservation friendly culture and ecotourism have significant influence on change of attitudes towards game meat and general acceptance of wildlife as alternative source of income (F= 9.831, d.f= 32, 77, p< 0.000). The study findings shows that strong and equitable community institutions, secure resource rights, active community participation and benefit sharing partnerships are key governance attributes for successful and sustainable community-based conservation Naibung'a and Namunyak. Pastoralists have ethnoveterinary knowledge that could be integrated with the modern medicine. They have used this ethnoveterinary knowledge to manage zoonotic diseases at the livestock-wildlife interface. Using pairwise matrix chart and disease incidence scoring, the most prevalent zoonotic diseases in Naibung'a are Brucellosis (28.6%) and Tuberculosis (33.3%). Other recorded disease cases are Rabies (6.0%), Anthrax (21.0%), and Typhoid (6.1 %). The mean average numbers of people affected by these zoonotic diseases are 22.38 and 47.26 (n=40) for adults and children respectively. Some of the benefits of having wildlife conservation alongside livestock production include; employment creation, conservation of threatened medicinal plant and species, economic gain though ecotourism, enhance pasture management through zonation, and there is increased security for wildlife and people. The constraints faced by these community conservation initiatives include: Weak or unclear community rights to land, water, other natural resources and the benefits from their management. Imperfect processes for developing policies for community-based conservation or devolved resource control. • Failure of policies to address the underlying causes of resource degradation, e.g. trade terms, debt and debt servicing, lack of valuation of natural resources. • Lack of community capacity for transforming natural capital/adding value The study recommends that: • There is need to build capacity among members of the conservancy on sustainable use and management of their natural resources. • Establish a clearly defined zoning plan, strengthen and expand the wildlife management programmes in the conservancy. • The need for change of centralized support with greater flexibility and opportunities for innovation with emphasis on the resource managers Further research is also needed to evaluate the costs and benefits of conservation to communities, and the extent to which local conservation efforts benefit wider society (e.g. quantity of water provided), to strengthen arguments for community payments for environmental services.