Assessing The Role Of Oloisukut Community Conservancy In The Management Of Wildlife Resources In Narok County, Kenya
Communities living around the Maasai Mara National Reserve disposal areas are setting aside their land for conservation purposes and for the locals to benefit from tourism. Oloisukut Conservancy is one such initiative, a newly established conservancy in the Mara ecosystem and currently the only one in TransMara area. The main objective of the study was to assess the role of Oloisukut community conservancy in the management of wildlife resources. Specific objectives were to determine the socio economic characteristics of the conservancy members; determine the attitudes and perceptions of the local community towards the conservancy; determine the benefits accrued and challenges faced by the community from the establishment of the conservancy and assess the level of awareness of local community on existing wildlife policies and legislation as they relate to the conservancy. The study utilized descriptive research design to examine the current situation in Oloisukut Conservancy. Data was obtained through using both primary and secondary sources. Primary data collection was done through a household questionnaire survey, focus group discussions and key informant interviews. Data was analyzed using Statistical Package for Social Scientists (SPSS) version 20 where frequencies were calculated. Results indicated that Oloisukut conservancy is owned by individuals, most of whom are not literate with a large percentage being unemployed. Livestock keeping, farming and charcoal burning were the main means of livelihood in the area. The community had positive attitudes and perception towards the establishment of the conservancy and conservation as a whole. However, the community had negative attitudes and perceptions towards the management of the conservancy. The study also established that benefits accrued by the local communities were minimal, they had not benefited from indirect benefits such as health centres, education bursaries, construction of roads within the conservancy as well as the provision of clean water all of which were still a challenge to the local community. The study further established that the conservancy had positive impacts on the natural resources. It was also established that the local community had some level of awareness of policy and legislation governing natural resources but they were not aware of their provisions. They were also not aware of community institutions vi such as Community Forest Associations (CFAs). Subsequently, the study found that the policies and legislation influencing conservancies in Kenya are fragmented and found in various sectors and though they tend to promote community participation in Natural Resource Management, they are subject to different interpretations by the different institutions, while some have conflicting mandates and lack proper benefit sharing mechanisms. It is recommended that the Country needs to develop a Community Based Natural Resource Management policy that provides a clear direction and national strategy with a common definition of its principals and characteristics, sensitization of the local community on the Wildlife Policy and the provision of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act 2013 and other Policies and legislation pertaining to conservation, proper cost and benefit sharing policy and legislation should be developed and strengthened relationships between the County Government of Narok, conservation organizations and the private sector be enhanced. Regarding management issues, the study proposed capacity building to be undertaken by the local community and their leaders in financial management and dispute resolution. The study further proposes the development of a management plan for the area to control encroachment into conservation areas and guide development and a benefit distribution plan to be embedded in the management plan. It is also recommended that studies be done on the impact of Oloisukut conservancy on land use and land cover changes in the area, equitable sharing of conservation benefits, a wildlife census to have an inventory of what exists in the area and studies on how livestock numbers can be reduced so as to achieve a balance between sustainable wildlife conservation and local community livelihoods.
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