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Finding Space for Wildlife beyond National Parks and Reducing Conflict through Community-based Conservation: the Kenya Experience

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Abstract

Protected area coverage has expanded rapidly in the last few decades and is set to span 17 per cent of the world’s terrestrial area by 2020. Despite the conservation gains, biodiversity is declining and humanwildlife conflict (HWC) is increasing, especially in Africa. Recognizing that vertebrates require far more space than the protected areas cover and that most biodiversity resides in human-modified landscapes, conservation efforts are turning to rural landscapes. Biodiversity conservation in rural lands hinges on landowners accommodating wildlife, and resolving HWC that undermines their willingness to conserve. We look at policies and practices embedded in community-based conservation in Kenya that address HWC through devolved rights and responsibilities for wildlife management dating from the 1970s, drawing on lessons from traditional practices rooted in coexistence.
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PARKS VOL 21.1 MARCH 2015
INTRODUCTION
The loss of wildlife and natural habitat over the last
century has been tempered in part by growing
sensibilities for nature, the birth of environmental
sciences, national conservation policies and a widening
variety of land use practices. The modern conservation
movement spawned by environmentalism in the early
20th century was founded on setting aside protected
areas and sustaining open space and natural habitat for
outdoor pursuits (Hays, 1999). The protected area
system has shown remarkable success in expanding the
terrestrial area coverage from 10 to 15.4 per cent since
the launch of the World Conservation Strategy (IUCN/
WWF/UNEP, 1980; Bertzky et al., 2012; Venter et al.,
2014; World Parks Congress, 2014; Juffe-Bignoli et al.,
2014). In large part, the expansion has occurred by
widening the early preservationist goals of parks to
include a variety of other values such as economic
benefits, ecosystem services and human wellbeing.
The prospects of expanding space for wildlife through
coexistence in human-dominated landscapes were
largely ignored in the course of the national parks
movement because of the prevailing sentiment that parks
should remove all human influence except tourism and
research (Parker & Bleazard, 2001). The prevalent
biological view that human modified areas afforded little
scope for wildlife also thwarted efforts to conserve
wildlife in human-dominated landscapes. HWC has, as a
result, been treated as an unwelcomed and unwanted by-
product of protectionist and utilization policies and
tackled as an animal control problem through
displacement, deterrence and destruction (Western &
Waithaka, 2005). Strategies and methods that have been
used to address HWC have varied depending on the
species, nature, extent, intensity and impact of conflict
and a variety of other social, economic and political
circumstances (Nelson & Sillero-Zubiri, 2003; Madden,
2004; Woodroffe et al., 2005; Western & Waithaka,
2005; WWF, 2008).
There is now a growing recognition of the scope for
conserving wildlife in the rural landscape (UNEP, 1988;
McNeely & Keeton, 1995; Biodiversity in Development,
2001; Leibel, 2012; Jonas et al., 2014). Several factors
contribute to the prospects for wildlife and biodiversity
www.iucn.org/parks www.iucn.org/parks
ABSTRACT
Protected area coverage has expanded rapidly in the last few decades and is set to span 17 per cent of the
world’s terrestrial area by 2020. Despite the conservation gains, biodiversity is declining and human-
wildlife conflict (HWC) is increasing, especially in Africa. Recognizing that vertebrates require far more
space than the protected areas cover and that most biodiversity resides in human-modified landscapes,
conservation efforts are turning to rural landscapes. Biodiversity conservation in rural lands hinges on
landowners accommodating wildlife, and resolving HWC that undermines their willingness to conserve. We
look at policies and practices embedded in community-based conservation in Kenya that address HWC
through devolved rights and responsibilities for wildlife management dating from the 1970s, drawing on
lessons from traditional practices rooted in coexistence.
Key words: human-wildlife conflict, Kenya, community-based conservation, protected areas policy and
practice
FINDING SPACE FOR WILDLIFE BEYOND
NATIONAL PARKS AND REDUCING CONFLICT
THROUGH COMMUNITY-BASED
CONSERVATION: THE KENYA EXPERIENCE
David Western1, John Waithaka2* and John Kamanga3
* Corresponding author: John.Waithaka@pc.gc.ca
1African Conservation Centre, Nairobi
2Parks Canada, Gatineau, Quebec
3South Rift Association of Landowners, Nairobi
PARKS 2015 Vol 21.1
10.2305/IUCN.CH.2014.PARKS-21-1DW.en
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Western et al.
conservation beyond protected areas. They include
biological sciences highlighting the need for ever larger
areas and spatial connectivity to conserve viable
populations; the inadequacy of protected area design and
coverage; the expanded goals of conservation to protect
all forms of life, ecosystem functions and ecological
services; and finally a growing recognition that most
biodiversity lies outside protected areas in human-
modified landscapes. Whereas protected areas conserve a
less altered more confined nature, the rural landscape
offers great scope for a more altered largely unconfined
nature (Western, 1989; Butchart et al., 2012; Jonas et al.,
2014; Kullberg & Molainen, 2014; WWF, 2014). Other
factors add urgency to finding space for wildlife in the
human-dominated realm. They include evidence that the
goals and strategies set by the Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD, 2002; UNEP, 2002) failed to halt the
decline in biodiversity by focusing on the symptoms
rather than causes of loss (CBD, 2010a, b); by findings
that parks are also losing biodiversity and wildlife
populations (Craigie et al., 2010); mapping exercises
showing the majority of the biodiversity falling outside
protected areas; dwindling government resources in the
face of a growing raft of conservation challenges; a rising
tide of democracy, rights and demands for locally-based
conservation initiatives; the diversity of views and
interest groups vying for their special conservation
interests, and climate change.
These among other factors call for the integration of
conservation and development (UN, 1992; Biodiversity in
Development, 2001; MEA, 2005; IUCN, 2005; UNEP,
2012; UN, 2014), a landscape and regional approach to
biodiversity conservation, and the need to address the
causes of decline rooted in poverty, inequality and the
lack of means and opportunity to benefit from
biodiversity (Western, 1994; Mittermeier et al., 2003;
Turner et al., 2012). Expanding the arena of conservation
is vital to buffering protected areas from extrinsic human
impact, conserving biodiversity and ecological services
on a large scale and in addressing the root cause of
ecosystem breakdown and species loss (IUCN, 2005;
Mora & Sale, 2011; Jonas et al., 2014). Scaling up
biodiversity conservation to the rural landscape also calls
for minimizing HWC using principles, policies and
practices that promote coexistence through expanded
benefits and offsetting the losses to those living with
wildlife. Key to coexistence, minimizing conflict and the
need for direct control of wildlife has been the emergence
and evolution of community-based conservation (CBC)
and community-based natural resource management
(CBNRM) in Africa (Western et al., 1994; Hulme &
Murphree, 2001; Borrini-Feyarabend et al., 2004). Both
have become paradigms for pluralistic, inclusive and
integrative conservation approaches to winning space
and a place for wildlife and biodiversity in the rural
landscape.
PARKS VOL 21.1 MARCH 2015
Community members meet to discuss the importance of Maasai culture in conserving their livestock economy, wildlife and the
health of the land © David Western
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This paper looks at the expanding policies, strategies and
approaches to conservation beyond protected areas first
raised at the World Parks Congress in Bali in 1982 under
the rubric ‘Parks for Sustainable Development’. We
specifically draw on Amboseli National Park in Kenya as
a pioneering effort to develop a CBC approach and look
at the subsequent evolution of policies and practices
aimed at devolving the rights and responsibilities for
wildlife conservation and management.
EVOLVING PLURALISM AND DISTRIBUTED
CONSERVATION
Although eastern Africa has retained the richest wildlife
herds on Earth, most still occur outside protected areas
in the pastoral regions (Western et al., 2009) and
populations have fallen steeply (Ogutu et al., 2011).
Conflict with rural populations has also risen sharply in
recent decades (KWS, 1995a; Western & Waithaka, 2005;
Okech, 2011; KWS, 2012a). The strong upsurge in pro-
wildlife sentiments in Kenya, spurred by a burgeoning
urban and youthful population seldom encountering wild
animals, has masked the growing intolerance of rural
communities gaining no benefits from wildlife and
having little say in national policy (Akama et al., 1995;
Western, 2001, Munira & Udoto, 2012). The focus of
influential international conservation and animal rights
organizations on poaching and tougher wildlife
protection has further detracted attention from HWC as
a serious threat to conservation (Bonner, 1993; Conover,
2002; Clarke, 2013).
The threat posed by the growing intolerance of wildlife
was recognized by Daniel Sindiyo (Sindiyo, 1968), a
game warden from a pastoral background. Sindiyo
advocated conserving wildlife by revitalizing customary
values and the skills of coexistence lost by colonial
conservation policies. The earliest steps to conserve
wildlife at an ecosystem scale and engage local
communities in sharing the benefits was undertaken in
Amboseli National Park in the early 1970s (Western,
1982). An annual grazing fee, now called Payment for
Ecosystem Services (UNEP, 2008), was paid to the
surrounding pastoral community commensurate for
supporting the migratory wildlife herds. The community
was encouraged to set up tourist accommodation on its
lands to derive direct benefits and secure conservation
coverage of the entire Amboseli ecosystem (Western,
1982).
An immediate measure of success of the Amboseli CBC
initiative was a halt to ivory poaching that had reduced
the Amboseli elephant population from 1,500 to 500
between 1972 and 1977 due to a ten-fold increase in the
price of ivory (Western, 1994). Despite the continued loss
of elephants in adjacent Tsavo National Park and across
Kenya that saw the national population fall from 167,000
to 19,000 by 1989 when a CITES ivory ban halted the
slaughter, the Amboseli elephant herd doubled over the
same period. Wildlife populations grew steadily across
the ecosystem following the engagement of the Amboseli
communities (Western, 1994; Kioko et al., 2006).
The principle behind the Amboseli initiative was to turn
wildlife from a liability to an asset for local communities
in wildlife rich areas. The Amboseli experiment was
adopted as national policy in 1977, aimed at expanding
the protection of protected areas to an ecosystem scale
and encouraging community-based conservation. Similar
policies and practices became widespread across Africa
and internationally in the 1980s and 1990s (Hulme &
Murphree, 2001) and were promulgated by the CBD in
the form of recognizing indigenous interests and equity
in biodiversity conservation and benefits (IIED, 1994;
CBD, 2002).
Adoption of the wildlife policies in Kenya in 1977 led to
the amalgamation of the former National Parks and
Game Department under the Wildlife Conservation and
Management Department (WCMD), aimed at integrating
wildlife conservation and management beyond park
boundaries and across ecosystems. As a government
department low on the development totem pole, WCMD
was given a paltry subvention by Treasury and failed to
arrest the steep rise in poaching, HWC and abuses of
wildlife compensation claims. In 1989, WCMD was
replaced by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), a semi-
autonomous agency under a board of trustees charged
with conserving and managing parks and collecting
wildlife income without reversion to Treasury.
The first steps taken by KWS were to launch a new policy
framework with a strong commitment to CBC and
integrated conservation planning on a national scale
(KWS, 1990). A community Wildlife Development Fund
(WDF) was established to support conservation and
development initiatives in prime wildlife areas. Although
WDF did much to promote CBC, it failed to address
HWC, made worse by the repeal of wildlife compensation
and by elephant populations spreading into agricultural
areas in the aftermath of the ivory ban of 1989 (KWS,
2012a). Communities and politicians complained that
KWS was more responsive to elephant poaching than the
rising number of people killed by elephants.
To address the growing national problem of HWC, KWS
undertook a countrywide public review of HWC in 1994
to understand the view of communities and stakeholders
throughout Kenya on the nature and causes of conflict
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Western et al.
and to gather views on mitigation policies and practices
(KWS, 1995a). The underlying principle of the
recommendations in the HWC review lay in lowering the
cost of conflict by raising the direct benefits communities
could gain from wildlife, and by devolving the rights and
responsibilities for conservation action to the lowest
effective and accountable levels. Special attention was
given to important wildlife areas around and beyond
national parks. A Minimum Viable Conservation Area
(MVCA) framework was adopted in 1997 for conserving
wildlife and biodiversity nationwide and as the basis for
ecosystem planning, HWC management, community
engagement and integrating national parks into the
wider landscape (Western & Waithaka, 2005).
To further promote protected areas, which had largely
been viewed by Kenyans as tourism destinations, KWS
launched a ‘Parks for Kenyans’ campaign in 1997 to
promote citizen visitation and a ‘Parks Beyond Parks’
campaign to encourage local conservation initiatives
outside parks and promote ecotourism (KWS, 1997). The
Parks Beyond Parks campaign was bolstered by two trust
funds established by the European Union, the first a
Biodiversity Conservation Program (BCP), the second a
Tourism Trust Fund (TTF). The funds were available on a
competitive basis to communities wishing to establish
and manage their own wildlife conservancies and
tourism enterprises within the MVCA network.
Landowner associations were free to form partnerships
with tour operators, investors, NGOs, KWS or other
organizations on a voluntary collaborative basis in order
to set up ecotourism enterprises, hire and train
community scouts and implement conservation and
management plans. The underlying goal of the trust
funds was to promote new collaborative ventures and
innovative conservation measures. The first community
wildlife sanctuary (later dubbed conservancies) was
established in 1997 at Kimana, near Amboseli, based on
the foundational CBC programme established around the
national park.
Following the recommendations of the HWC report,
KWS established a training programme for community
scouts as a means of devolving security and HWC skills
and management capacity to wildlife associations and
conservancies. The rights and responsibilities were based
on the classification of species. Endangered and
threatened species remained the responsibility of KWS
and KWS established a Problem Animal Management
Unit (PAMU) for dealing with species beyond the scope
of communities (Western & Waithaka, 2005). PAMU
focused on HWC hotspots identified by national surveys
(KWS, 1995b). The aim of the wildlife policy was to
devolve as much opportunity and responsibility to
landowners and their partners as possible, and to reduce
the need for destructive animal control measures.
A detailed analysis of the outcome of the policies for
reducing HWC in Kenya and winning space for wildlife
beyond protected areas has been conducted by Western
and Waithaka (2005). The study showed that tolerance
of problem animals rose and conflict fell in response to
the wildlife benefits accrued and conflict mitigation
measures, leading to fewer animals killed in reprisal.
CASCADING CONSERVATION DOWNWARDS
Although KWS created an enabling environment for
mitigating HWC through community engagement, the
real momentum and innovation emerged from a medley
PARKS VOL 21.1 MARCH 2015
Maasai herder in southern Kenya © Equilibrium Research
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of collaborative ventures on the ground. The KWS
Wildlife Development Fund (WDF) gave the initial
impetus to community initiatives, but the far larger TTF
and BCP funds soon replaced and far exceeded the WDF
stimulus. Most grants were awarded for setting up
conservancies and to ecotourism enterprises. The Parks
Beyond Parks campaign was buoyed by national and
community based institutions such as Ecotourism Kenya1
and a growing number of wildlife and landowner
associations. NGOs found a new conservation lease of life
in supporting CBC initiatives. The national and local
associations became the mainstay in building up
community capacity in business enterprises, security
operations and conservation planning and management.
In reality the devolution of rights and responsibility for
conservation added very modestly to existing livelihoods
of landowners (Homewood et al., 2009). In most wildlife
areas the primary source of community livelihoods
remains livestock, though small-scale farming is rising in
significance in wetter regions. The opportunity to derive
wildlife incomes without sacrificing their major
livelihoods has seen private landowners and
communities incorporate conservation enterprises into
their land use practices (Waithaka, 2004). As a result,
the early initiatives in setting aside small wildlife
exclusive sanctuaries have given way to far larger
conservancies practising rotational grazing and grass
banking to sustain mixed herds of wildlife and livestock
through droughts2.
Community scouts trained by KWS initially played a vital
role in giving landowner associations the capacity to
patrol and protect their own wildlife and natural
resources, provide security for tourists and tackle HWC
that does not call on the specialized skills of the KWS’s
PAMU. The scouts have given communities a strong
sense of control and pride in their own capacity to benefit
from wildlife and ability to anticipate and manage HWC.
As the number of trained scouts has grown, NGOs with
the funding and requisite skills, including Big Life3 and
landowners associations such as the Northern Rangeland
Trust (NRT)4, have taken on an ever larger role in
training community scouts and diversifying their
functions.
A second cadre of local conservation agents, the resource
assessors (RAs), has emerged from the devolution of
rights and responsibilities for wildlife management and
the information demands of better planning and
management. The RAs draw on the role that young
lale’enok Maasai scouts traditionally played in pastoral
communities. The lale’enok scouts monitored all aspects
of range condition, wildlife distribution and pending
threats in order to make informed collective decisions on
livestock deployment, health and protection. Trained by
scientists attached to NGOs such as the African
Conservation Centre, and community associations such
as the South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO)
2, the contemporary RA scouts collect and feed
information on rangeland conditions, opportunities and
threats directly to the community for herd deployment
and land use planning. Information on likely conflicts
with wild herbivores and predators helps in designing
strategies for HWC mitigation. The growing importance
of the RAs has led to the creation of community
knowledge-action centres which bring together RAs,
scouts and scientists to pool, communicate and act on
shared information2.
NRT, SORALO, Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF)5, the
Maasai Mara Management Association and the Amboseli
Ecosystem Trust (AET) are some of the many landowner
associations that now play the primary role in conserving
and protecting wildlife outside national parks,
addressing HWC and integrated wildlife and land use
planning. In an innovative step for local conservation
stewardship, AET in 2014 undertook a Strategic
Environmental Assessment (SEA) of an Amboseli
Ecosystem Management Plan (AEMP), drawn up in
collaboration with conservation partners. The approval
of AEMP by the SEA process sets the stage for legal
gazettement of the plan by the National Environmental
Management Agency.
The CBC initiatives are matched by a national effort to
map biodiversity, assess the conservation threats and
opportunities, value and assess ecosystem services and
set up a national framework to audit and monitor
Kenya’s natural capital (Kenya’s Natural Capital, 2015).
The national initiative will encourage and complement
devolved and collaborative policies that stimulate local
conservation practices, complement national parks and
reduce HWC. The passage of a new Wildlife Act in 2013,
in line with the Kenya Constitution 2010, explicitly
devolves wildlife management responsibilities to county
governments, landowners associations and their
representative bodies.
THE GROWING IMPACT OF CBC
How effective has CBC been in Kenya, based on the
growth of the movement and its success in engaging
communities and conserving wildlife?
Measures of conservation success can be gauged by
various indicators (Margoulis & Salafsky, 1998). Here we
use direct measures of the success of CBC initiatives
drawn from the area set aside as conservancies, wildlife
PARKS VOL 21.1 MARCH 2015
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Western et al.
trends, and local engagement using the growth in
community scouts, community-based organizations and
ecotourism facilities as a measure of employment.
Since 1991, when KWS formally began promoting
community-based conservation, the number of
conservancies has grown from fewer than 10, all on
private ranches, to 230 in 2014, most on community
lands. Over the same period the area under
conservancies has grown from some 100 km² to 43,600
km² (Kenya Wildlife Service, pers. com). The current
area of conservancies includes 7.5 per cent of the land
surface area of Kenya compared to 7.9 per cent under
national parks and reserves. The growth of conservancies
coincided with the levelling off of protected area set-
asides (Kenya’s Natural Capital, 2015) and is likely to
exceed them within the next few years, based on current
rates of growth. The status of wildlife in conservancies
compared to national protected areas and non-protected
areas is presented in Table 1.
National parks account for approximately 10 per cent of
all Kenya’s wildlife and national parks and reserves for
35 per cent of the total (Western et al., 2009). Private
and community conservancies account for 40 per cent of
all wildlife, more than all nationally protected areas
combined.
Wildlife trends in national parks and reserves declined
by 38 per cent over the three decades from the late 1970s
(Grundbatt et al., 1995) to early 2000s, roughly matching
the national decline of 41 per cent (Western et al., 2009;
Ogutu et al., 2011). The only comparative data available
on wildlife in private and community conservancies show
most to be holding their own or increasing (Western et
al., 2007).
Indirect measures also testify to the growing importance
and engagement of private and community initiatives in
conservation. The first 15 community scouts were
established by the Amboseli Tsavo Group Ranch
Conservation Association in 1991. The scouts were poorly
trained and managed and proved ineffective. In 1997
KWS trained 60 community scouts at its Manyani field
training centre6, deployed them to community areas and
forged close communications and operational links. The
community scouts soon proved effective in combating
rustlers and poachers and became a vanguard of security
for communities across Kenya. The number of scouts had
grown to some 2,200 by 2014, compared to some 3,000
KWS rangers on active field duty. The number of
community scouts is likely to exceed KWS rangers in the
next few years, supported entirely by community
revenues, NGOs and multilateral agencies. The
community scouts have become highly effective in
combating poachers.
The growth in community-based organizations,
landowner associations and national organizations also
testifies to the success of CBC. Since the first CBC
organization, the Kitengela Landowners Association, was
established in 1990, a large number of community-based
organizations (CBOs) have been established. A number
of umbrella bodies such as the Kenya Wildlife
Conservation Association (KWCA)7 and the Rangelands
Association of Kenya (RAK) have been set up to
represent the CBOs nationally and have strongly
influenced wildlife legislation.
Tourist lodges and camps on wildlife lands outside
national parks provide a measure of the growth in
wildlife tourism enterprises set up by communities in
collaboration with the tour industry and NGOs. From the
first ecotourism lodge, Ol Doinyo Uas, established in the
Amboseli ecosystem in 1985, the number has since
grown to 15 facilities outside the park, compared to two
lodges inside Amboseli National Park. In the Maasai
Mara ecosystem 140 lodges and campsites are spread
across private and communal lands in the ecosystem
compared to seven inside the Maasai Mara National
Reserve.
DEVOLVING HWC RESOLUTION
The growth of private and community engagement in
conservation bears directly on the extent and nature of
HWC and on how it is viewed and managed nationally
and locally. Ironically, as tolerance of wildlife grows with
changing values and widening benefits, conflict increases
due to greater protection, habituation and encroachment
into human-dominated landscapes (Sterba, 2012). The
PARKS VOL 21.1 MARCH 2015
Table 1. Percentages of wildlife found in areas of differing
conservation status averaged for the 1990s based on
Western et al., 2009.
Conservation Status
Wildlife
totals
% of all
wildlife
National Parks
83,633
10
Maasai Mara National
Reserve
214,045
25
Privately Protected Areas
334,263
40
Remaining populations
(non-protected areas)
214,711
25
Total National
Population
846,652
100
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intensified conflict between elephants and people
following the CITES ivory ban has been well documented
in Kenya (Western & Waithaka, 2005). The conflict was
aggravated by a vacuum in policy for mitigating conflict
and slow response times. HWC mitigation has been
further hampered by a poor understanding of animal-
human interactions on the one hand and, on the other,
more commitment to protecting elephants from poachers
than people from wildlife (KWS, 1995a; KWS 2005; KWS
2012b; Martin 2012; Capoccia, 2013). KWS has also
shown reluctance to take early action on problem
animals for fear of publicity backlash from protectionist
groups and the media.
Devolving mitigation measures from centralized control
is inevitable in view of the expanding scale and scope of
wildlife conservation, deepening HWC, the shrinking
capacity of government and the rising tide of democracy
and rights fostering local decisions. The biggest challenge
to devolved action lies in reversing decades of reliance on
government to deal with HWC and the loss of traditional
skills for coexisting with wildlife. With government
efforts primarily devoted to control and compensation,
scant attention has been given to the root cause of HWC
and the skills of living with wildlife. Such skills reside in
communities, not government agencies.
NGOs working in collaboration with communities have
begun to fill the HWC void in light of conservation
devolution and limited capacity and skills of government
agencies. Kenya has seen a rapid growth in NGO and
community efforts to protect threatened and endangered
species by averting conflict in non-destructive ways.
These include Living with Lions8, Lion Guardians9,
Rebuilding the Pride10, Big Life3 and Space for Giants11.
Increasingly, CBOs such as NRT, LWF, AET and
SORALO are taking on responsibility for tackling all
forms of HWC by deploying specialized scouts, engaging
researchers, planning and managing land uses and
developing and deploying techniques to avoid and tackle
conflict. These decentralized conservation initiatives,
coupled with a rising tolerance of wildlife and willingness
of CBOs to suffer some losses as a quid pro quo for more
rights and responsibilities, is leading to a better
understanding of human-wildlife interactions. Such
understanding is based on new methods of mapping and
detecting potential threats and conflict, and using scouts
and RAs to map and disseminate information on aversive
measures using social media and CBO networks.
Out of necessity and opportunity, devolution of
conservation rights and responsibilities is moving HWC
from a one-size-fits all approach to wildlife control to
PARKS VOL 21.1 MARCH 2015
Over 2,500 community scouts are now deployed in protecting wildlife and averting human wildlife conflict in the 150
conservancies in Kenya © John Kamanga
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Western et al.
new collaborative and locally-based approaches. The
Borderlands Conservation Initiative12 for example, has
forged a collaborative arrangement between government
agencies, CBOs, NGOs and researchers in the 120,000
km² Tanzania-Kenya borderlands to conserve viable
meta-populations of elephants and lions by connecting
protected areas across community lands.
Despite such advances, HWC remains more of an
afterthought than centrepiece of national conservation
policies and strategies. Little attention is given to the
largely traditional and rapidly disappearing skills that
foster coexistence (Finger & Schuler, 2004; Vira &
Kontoleon, 2010). In the concluding section we look at a
few examples of traditional knowledge and practices,
drawing heavily on our collective experience working
within and among communities to point to a new horizon
for coexistence principles rather than control as a central
tenet of HWC aversion.
THE NEXT HORIZON
Understanding the perceptions of communities towards
wildlife is essential for successful CBC. In general,
perceptions of wildlife range from threatening to useful
and neutral (Brown-Nunez & Jonker, 2008), and vary
with circumstance and location. Devolving and localizing
HWC mitigation calls for an understanding of
coexistence and how it varies with context, species,
attitudes and society (Waithaka, 2012; Weller, 1931). The
varied circumstances call for pluralistic and locally
adaptive solutions, rather than a uniform prescriptive
approach that has typified centralized conservation
policy and responses.
Little attention has been given to traditional skills of
coexistence, most of which have been lost as societies
have transitioned to market economies. In East Africa,
pastoral communities held a mixed and varying view of
species, depending on their perceived threat, utility and
symbolism (Roque de Pinho, 2009; Brown-Nunez &
Jonker, 2008; Goldman et al., 2010). On balance,
wildlife was abundant because its benefits in
complementing livestock production greatly outweighed
losses. There is, however, little information in literature
on the ecological and behavioural basis of coexistence,
excepting some insights on the relationship between
lions and Maasai (Hazzah et al., 2009; Western, 2012).
We draw on our first-hand knowledge of growing up in a
traditional pastoral community (JK), research and
management of human-wildlife conflict (JW) and long-
term research on human-wildlife interactions (DW) to
highlight salient factors explaining coexistence. Losses
were seen as the inevitable cost of living with wildlife
that, among the Maasai, were considered as second cattle
(Western, 1997) because of the many material and
cultural values that were derived from wildlife. These
ranged from food, to medicines, clothing, housing,
weapons, environmental indicators and totems. Pastoral
communities in particular saw wildlife as cohabitants of
their living space and foraging range and communities
used an array of techniques for averting conflict when
possible and managing, deterring and controlling it when
necessary. Above all, an intimate knowledge of animal
movements and behaviour was crucial to sharing living
space with minimum threat and loss.
Techniques for containing conflict ranged from seasonal
migrations to daily herding and husbandry practices that
limited threatening contact. Other techniques include,
the protection of herds through vigilance, routing
patterns, aggregating herds, collective guarding, night
corralling, and ritual deterrents. As a last resort,
threatening animals were pursued and killed, continually
reinforcing the fear that high-threat species had of
humans. Lions and elephants can distinguish Maasai
from other peoples and show an elevated fear and escape
response (JK pers. ob.). Personal responsibility for
avoiding and deterring predator attacks on livestock was
reinforced by group sanctions to prevent carnivores from
becoming habitual killers and attacking livestock of
fellow herders.
With the assumption of wildlife control by the state and
prohibitions against traditional uses and deterrence, wild
animals lost the many customary values they held and
were regarded as government cattle (Western, 1997).
HWC rose steeply once government took responsibility
for wildlife protection and problem animal control,
leading to a loss of traditional knowledge, the skills for
coexistence and tolerance of wildlife.
Policies for devolving rights and responsibilities for
wildlife use and management back to communities
should therefore re-establish the underlying principles
that fostered coexistence and contained HWC. They
include the varied traditional values of wildlife that were
sustainable and socially acceptable nationally; new
values such as ecotourism and sustainable consumptive
utilization; collaborative natural resource management
on a scale sufficient to sustain viable wildlife populations,
and conservation education, including traditional
knowledge and skills for coexistence. Offsetting losses
through compensation, deterrence and control should be
considered within the larger context of coexistence and
localized and internalized as far as possible, excepting
threatened and endangered species and those calling for
specialized skills.
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The erosion of traditional values raises the spectre of
wildlife being viewed entirely negatively (Akama &
Burnett, 1995), leading to growing intolerance and
deepening HWC. The negativity can, however be offset
where tourism and other new wildlife values contribute
significantly to livelihoods and welfare (Githaiga, 1998;
Western & Nightingale, 2004; Waithaka, 2004;
Homewood et al., 2009; Glew et al., 2010). Nevertheless,
development of tourism and other wildlife-related
enterprises and programmes is more feasible in pastoral
areas than in agro-pastoral or crop farming situations
due to high human populations and incompatible land
use practices.
CONCLUSION
HWC has been largely ignored in policy and tackled
mainly through deterrence and control by government
personnel poorly trained and usually ill-equipped to
respond in a timely fashion. HWC has become a focal
point of interest in wildlife conservation in recent years
(IUCN, 2005), spurred in part by the realization that
protected areas, however vital, have limited capacity to
protect all wildlife and conserve biodiversity. The
necessity of, and scope for, conserving biodiversity in the
human realm has drawn conservation interest in the last
three decades, leading to the growth of community-based
conservation (Western et al., 1994; Hulme & Murphree,
2001). Turning wildlife from a liability into an asset
reduces the perception that the conservation interests of
the state are at odds with primary livelihoods of
communities. Devolving the rights and responsibilities
for biodiversity conservation from national to local levels
calls for resuscitating the incentives and skills for making
wildlife an important component of livelihoods, based on
maximizing the benefits and minimizing the costs and
conflicts. Paradoxically, such devolution draws the focus
of conservation back to the skills and methods of
coexistence traditionally residing in communities which
is not available to or considered by national agencies and
NGOs.
ENDNOTES
1 www.ecotourismkenya.org
2www.Soralo.org
3 www.biglife.org/
4 www.nrt-kenya.org
5 www.laikipia.org/
6 www.kws.org/about/training/manyani.html
7 www.kwcakenya.com/
8 www.livingwithlions.org/
9 lionguardians.org/tag/kenya/
10 www.soralo.org/rebuilding-pride/
11 www.spaceforgiants.org/
12 www.borderlandconservation.org
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
We acknowledge the African Conservation Centre and
South Rift Association of Land Owners and their
sponsors who supported our conservation efforts over
the years. Many of the community initiatives outlined
were undertaken when David Western was director and
John Waithaka Head of Biodiversity at the Kenya
Wildlife Service. We recognize and gratefully
acknowledge the role played by KWS staff who played
such an active role. We also thank Shirley Strum for
reviewing the manuscript.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
David Western has studied human and wildlife
interactions in Kenya since 1967. Formerly director of the
Kenya Wildlife Service, he directed Wildlife Conservation
Society programmes internationally, established Kenya’s
Wildlife Planning Unit, chaired the African Elephant and
Rhino Specialist Group, and was founding president of
The International Ecotourism Society. He founded and is
currently chairman of the African Conservation Centre in
Nairobi. Western’s publications include Conservation for
the Twenty-first Century and Natural Connections:
Perspectives in Community-based Conservation. He
recently served on a government task force redrafting
Kenya’s environmental legislation and is chief editor of
Kenya’s Natural Capital: A Biodiversity Atlas.
John Waithaka is a conservation biologist with
extensive experience in biodiversity conservation
research, wildlife management and policy development.
He has worked with a broad range of conservation
practitioners in Africa, North America and Europe, and
held various positions, including: Zoology Lecturer,
Kenyatta University; Executive Director, African
Conservation Centre; Deputy Director, Kenya Wildlife
Service; Manager, European Union’s Biodiversity
Conservation Program, and Conservation Biologist at
Parks Canada. He is an active member of the World
Commission on Protected Areas. John holds a M.Sc. in
Biology of Conservation and a Ph.D. in Zoology.
John Kamanga has been trained in community
development and African cultures and has worked with
various communities across the rural areas of Kenya for
over fifteen years. He is currently the director of the
South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO) and
works to promote conservation and tourism in the area
between Maasai Mara and Amboseli national parks. He
has been the chairman of the Olkiramatian Group Ranch
for the past ten years. John was awarded the Cincinnati
Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Conservation Leadership
award for 2013.
PARKS VOL 21.1 MARCH 2015
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Western et al.
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PARKS VOL 21.1 MARCH 2015
RESUMEN
La cobertura de áreas protegidas se ha expandido rápidamente en las últimas décadas y se espera que para
el año 2020 abarque el 17 por ciento de la superficie terrestre del mundo. A pesar de los beneficios de la
conservación, la biodiversidad está disminuyendo y los conflictos entre los seres humanos y la vida silvestre
(HWC) son cada vez mayores, sobre todo en África. Reconociendo que los vertebrados requieren mucho
más espacio del que cubren las áreas protegidas y que la mayor parte de la biodiversidad reside en paisajes
modificados por el hombre, los esfuerzos de conservación se están desplegando hacia los paisajes rurales.
La conservación de la biodiversidad en las tierras rurales depende de propietarios de tierras que den cabida
a la vida silvestre y de la resolución de los conflictos HWC que obstaculizan su disposición a conservar.
Consideramos las políticas y prácticas incrustadas en la conservación comunitaria en Kenia que abordan
HWC a través de la delegación de derechos y responsabilidades para la gestión de la vida silvestre que datan
de la década de 1970, extrayendo las enseñanzas derivadas de las prácticas tradicionales arraigadas en la
coexistencia.
RÉSUMÉ
Les dernières décennies ont connu une accroissement rapide de la superficie des aires protégées et il est
prévu d'ici à 2020 que ces zones atteignent 17 pour cent de la surface terrestre de la planète. Malgré ces
gains de conservation, la biodiversité est en déclin et les conflits entre l'homme et l'habitat sauvage sont en
augmentation, en particulier en Afrique. Conscients que les vertébrés ont besoin de bien plus d’espace que
n’en offrent les aires protégées et que la biodiversité subsiste surtout dans les paysages modifiés par
l'homme, les conversationnistes orientent leurs efforts vers les zones rurales. La conservation de la
biodiversité dans ces zones repose sur la volonté des propriétaires terriens à accepter la faune, et à résoudre
les conflits qui compromettent leur volonté de préservation. Nous examinons les règles et les coutumes de
conservation observées par les communautés au Kenya qui abordent ces conflits en tenant compte de droits
en matière de gestion de la faune datant des années 1970, et tirons des leçons à partir de pratiques
traditionnelles enracinées dans la coexistence de l’homme et de son habitat.
... A policy committed to CBC was initiated in 1990 by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), a semi-autonomous state agency established in 1989 with a mandate to conserve and manage wildlife in Kenya (Western et al. 2015). Funding came from the European Union and USAID through the Conservation Resource of Biodiverse Areas (COBRA) project. ...
... (KWS 2018: 131; KWCA 2020). Conservancies have increased from ten in 1991, all on private ranches, to 230 in 2014 (Western et al. 2015), out of which 76 were community conservancies in 2020 (KWCA 2020). Since the mid-2000s, CBC projects have begun to mushroom in the communal rangelands of the northern Rift Valley, a region predominantly inhabited by pastoralist groups (Figure 2). ...
... Most community conservancies are integrated with umbrella organisations such as Kenya Wildlife Conservation Association (KWCA) which coordinates political representation for conservancies vis-á-vis the Kenyan state at the national level (Western et al. 2015). In the northern Rift Valley, 39 community conservancies form part of the Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT). ...
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... In response, KWS started providing benefits to local residents such as school bursaries and direct payments to Maasai leadership (Western 1982). This distribution of community benefits and other efforts to include Maasai in conservation such as the use of community scouts to decrease "poaching" and prevent humanwildlife conflict were initially seen as successful according to measures focused on increasing wildlife populations (Western 1982, Western et al. 2015. However, again, protest killings occurred into the 1990s following continued broken promises about water provisioning (Reid 2012), with wildlife also sporadically killed as a protest in surrounding areas more recently (Goldman et al. 2013). ...
... Recognizing the limitations of a singular focus on the instrumental benefits of wildlife, some NGOs, in coordination with KWS, have begun to address some of the social dimensions of wildlife conservation. One common approach includes training community game scouts to reduce human-wildlife conflict (Western et al. 2015). This broader approach resonates with national policy changes as reflected in the Wildlife Act of 2013 that devolves wildlife management to county-level officials and local representatives. ...
... This broader approach resonates with national policy changes as reflected in the Wildlife Act of 2013 that devolves wildlife management to county-level officials and local representatives. Western et al. (2015) acknowledged that prevention of human-wildlife conflict at the national level has operated in less than optimal ways, often focusing more on wildlife than people, and had lacked a detailed understanding of humanwildlife relations. They emphasized the need to further involve "traditional skills," while promoting "collaborative natural resource management" (Western et al. 2015). ...
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Categorically distinct instrumental values and non-instrumental "cultural" values of "nature" are central to ecosystem services assessments and many wildlife conservation interventions alike. However, this approach to understanding the value of nature is at odds with social scientific understandings that see value as produced through social-ecological relations and processes. With a case study of Ilkisongo Maasai land users living in group ranches surrounding Amboseli National Park in southern Kenya, we apply a relational values approach to highlight the processes of valuation that shape how different people within Maasai society come to have different shared values of wildlife and collectively titled land. First, we detail how wildlife conservation efforts in Amboseli have affected social relations through uneven conservation decision-making processes and unequal distribution of benefits from conservation. Second, we detail how conservation practices have directly influenced changing relationships between people and wildlife. Neglect of elders' common stances on how relations "ought" to be maintained (both human-human and human-nonhuman relations), and many Maasai residents' views of the "ownership" of wildlife by a minority have both fueled resentment. We show that an ironic, unintended outcome is that conservation projects, which are intended to increase the "value" of wildlife for local people as a way to foster "coexistence" of people and wildlife on collectively titled lands, are instead contributing to an increased desire by some Maasai for wildlife to be spatially separated from people and livestock. Simultaneously, current conservation projects do not build upon practices that in Maasai views, enabled historical sharing of land with wildlife. Inequality and lack of participation have been highlighted as key limitations of many community-based conservation and human-wildlife conflict mitigation initiatives. We instead focus on how wildlife conservation interventions have contributed to changing human-human and human-nonhuman relations and have in turn impacted long-term Maasai perceptions of wildlife. We argue that an expanded consideration of relational values that emphasizes the inseparability of culture and nature, but also includes a central consideration of power dynamics, might overcome some limitations of previous valuation approaches.
... 113 Monitoring processes need to be standardized 114 and protocols developed so that data quality remains consistent even if personnel change. 115 • Setting up a grievance procedure: As well as reporting back, there needs to be a clear way in which people can tell project managers if they feel unhappy with something. This is a key aspect of trust building, and it is important that people feel safe to report (itself only possible if a level of trust has developed) and that the responsible person reacts. ...
... 112 The state authorities in Primorsky Kray are required to respect the traditional use of nature and the way of life of the Indigenous peoples, including through provision of tax The Permanent Council of Indigenous Peoples 114 has been established under the national park management to lead and consult on all issues related to Indigenous peoples and their rights in the park, as an advisory board and self-governance entity. 115 The Council is responsible for delineating boundaries of the hunting ranges, defining hunting limits and timeframe, and ecotourism development. The Committee has 15 elected members with a two-thirds majority of Indigenous representatives. ...
... Printre aceste măsuri se numără și o serie de instrumente legislative, ca de exemplu, înființarea unor arii protejate. Printre cele mai importante ariile protejate recunoscute la nivel mondial, sunt Parcurile Naționale, care au nu doar rolul de a proteja anumite specii sau elemente naturale, dar în același timp sunt considerate simbol al țarii respective, primele parcuri naționale fiind înființate cu acest scop (Western, Waithaka, & Kamanga, 2015). ...
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In order to protect a species efficiently, measures need to be taken not only towards the species itself, but also towards the habitats where it occurs. We assessed the habitat selection of four large mammals (Ursus arctos, Canis lupus, Lynx lynx and Cervus elaphus) during a study in the Ceahlau National Park, Romania. We conducted transects and camera-trap surveys during October 2019 – March 2020. We analyzed the presence data using the Ecological Niche Factorial Analysis (ENFA), considering as proxies for habitats ten environmental variables. Subsequently, we ran the Monte- Carlo Test to assess whether the species followed a random distribution or not. Finally, we created habitat suitability models with MADIFA. Our main outcomes showed an avoidance of urban, agricultural and steep areas by the four large mammals' species. The brown bear showed no strong selection, apart from the aspect, reporting a random distribution. In contrast, the Eurasian lynx resulted in a strong selection toward broadleaf forests and open areas. The grey wolf and the red deer presence were correlated, both selecting mixed forests and similar altitudinal values. Besides, the wolf selected open areas, while the red deer avoided them. Even if the National Park has a small surface with few suitable areas for large carnivores, their presence was high. Most of the species were detected closer to the limits. Therefore, future inventories and management actions must be addressed toward suitable areas and must include a buffer zone outside the National Park borders. We want to promote the use of pilot studies to minimize the effort and maximize the efficiency of monitoring plans.
... A sharp increase in livestock numbers in recent decades has led to overgrazing, reducing grass cover and small mammal populations and, by extension, diminishing the prey base for raptors (Keesing and Young, 2014;Ogutu et al., 2016). The result is a biologically impoverished landscape that is less resilient to climatic changes and provides fewer ecosystem services, and where attitudes toward wildlife have become increasingly intolerant (Western et al., 2015). ...
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Kenya's wildlife has been declining substantially for decades, due to rapid human population growth and its associated impacts on natural habitats. Predators and scavengers are particularly sensitive to anthropogenic pressures, and their changing status has corresponding impacts on the ecosystem services they provide. To estimate rates of change in Kenya's raptor populations we compared linear encounter rates (individuals 100 km − 1) recorded during road surveys conducted in 1970-1977 and 2003-2020. Encounter rates for 19 out of 22 species examined had fallen, by a median of 70% among those showing a significant or near-significant change. No species had increased significantly. Declines had occurred among all vulture and large eagle species, and were especially pronounced among once-common small and medium-sized raptors. Our findings demonstrate the importance of protected areas (PAs) for Kenya's remaining raptor populations. The median encounter rate for vultures and large eagles had dropped by 23% within PAs and by 76% in unprotected areas. Smaller species showed divergent trends in relation to PA status, their median encounter rate increasing by 104% within PAs while declining by 85% elsewhere. Based on projected declines over three generation lengths, 45% of the species examined would qualify as nationally Endangered or Critically Endangered. Key threats include electrocution/collision with energy infrastructure, deliberate and incidental poisoning, and impacts associated with habitat degradation. Kenya's raptor declines could be reversed through enhanced management of PAs, mitigation of specific threats and the implementation of species recovery plans; all requiring steadfast government commitment and close collaboration with conservation stakeholders.
... 6 However, it also has a business arm called NRT Trading, which markets pastoralists' beadwork and livestock, promotes tourism and builds capacity for enterprise (NRT, n.d.); some suspicions have been voiced by pastoralists about whether they are receiving a fair deal from the livestock marketing venture . There are several reasons why community conservancies became so attractive in northern Kenya: the environmental argument is that an estimated 65% of the wildlife in Kenya lives outside of national parks (Western, Waithaka, & Kamanga, 2015). NRT's success by establishing community conservancies in northern Kenya was to protect rare species such as Grevy's zebra or the white giraffe. ...
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During the last decades, the boundaries between humanitarian aid and development on the one side and security and physical force on the other side became increasingly permeable. Several Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) operating in the field of humanitarian aid and development established their own security measures and structures of force in order to fulfil their mandates. In this article, we deal with the particular question of why and how NGOs become involved in organizing force in nature conservation areas, and to what effect. This question is analysed using the example of the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT), which is the largest NGO governing conservancies in northern Kenya. During the last two decades, NRT emerged as a state within the state: its influence and control reach far beyond the realm of conservation. To understand the role NRT is playing, we apply the approach of Frontier Studies. We shed light on the reshuffling of the organization of force in northern Kenya – habitually considered to be the role of the state – as a consequence of the establishment of conservancies by NRT. NRT’s security personnel have become a decisive force in northern Kenya, which is not only providing security, but is also drawn into intercommunal violent conflicts. We aim to explain why an environmental NGO could become such an outstanding player in the (re-)organization of force, and why the state at least tolerates the expansion of NRT. With this example, we would like to draw attention to the very fact that in frontier contexts NGOs resemble non-governmental agents of the state. They become exposed to public discourses, while the government can easily absolve itself of any blame.
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Purpose This chapter evaluates the impacts of and response measures to COVID-19 pandemic on the practice of tourism in the wildlife conservancy model in Kenya thus proposing response interventions to possible tourism crises in the future. Methodological Design The study uses the qualitative exploratory experience design and collects data from purposely selected conservancies' leaders and other documented materials from two main wildlife conservancies association in Kenya. Findings The chapter presents findings on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on wildlife conservancy-based tourism, how conservancies responded to the pandemic and conservancy leadership perspectives on how to model future tourism and related activities in the conservancies based on the lessons they have learnt from the COVID-19 experience. Research limitation/Implications With the wildlife conservancy-based tourism model in Kenya being a relatively new phenomenon, the study provides important lessons for comparison with other such initiatives in other places in the event of tourism crises in the future. Originality/Value This chapter argues that better preparedness to crises and uncertainties by various tourism types and models can help mitigate against adverse effects of similar uncertainties in the future. Consequently, the findings offer a glimpse of proposals and solutions to the wildlife conservancy-based tourism models that continue to be established in Kenya and in the region.
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Many technology projects are driven by (hidden) agendas which prioritize the one or the other stakeholder or the technology itself, thereby creating tensions and compromising important perspectives. In the field of digital conservation and wildlife management, the focus has often been on safeguarding wildlife (the lion), not incorporating socio-economic factors of communities (the Omuhimba), by exploiting technologies concerned with wildlife data collection only (the drone). Concerned with reconciling heterogeneous perspectives the authors present the development and conceptualisation of an integrated wildlife monitoring system in Southern Africa. The authors postulate that a community-based co-design approach, grounded in the Ubuntu philosophy, leads to novel and innovative technology designs embracing ecocentrism.
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Protected areas are a cornerstone of global efforts to conserve biodiversity. The Protected Planet Report 2012 reviews progress towards the achievement of international protected area targets through analysis of status and trends in global biodiversity protection. The resulting synthesis is a key source of information for decision makers and the conservation community.
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Are conservation and protecting animals the same thing? In Game Changer, award-winning environmental reporter Glen Martin takes a fresh look at this question as it applies to Africa's megafauna. Martin assesses the rising influence of the animal rights movement and finds that the policies championed by animal welfare groups could lead paradoxically to the elimination of the very species-including elephants and lions-that are the most cherished. In his anecdotal and highly engaging style, Martin takes readers to the heart of the conflict. He revisits the debate between conservationists, who believe that people whose lives are directly impacted by the creation of national parks and preserves should be compensated, versus those who believe that restrictive protection that forbids hunting is the most effective way to conserve wildlife and habitats. Focusing on the different approaches taken by Kenya, Tanzania, and Namibia, Martin vividly shows how the world's last great populations of wildlife have become the hostages in a fight between those who love animals and those who would save them.
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Natural Connections is the first systematic analysis of community based conservation, a people driven, bottom up approach to conservation which makes local communities the beneficiaries and custodians of conservation efforts. It includes a comprehensive examination of detailed cases from around the world and provides an overview of CBC in the context of the debate over sustainable development, poverty and environmental decline. It also reviews issues arising from CBC programs and an agenda for future action.