Laikipia Wildlife Forum (LWF) puts a lot of effort in raising awareness and capacity building for the community to understand the need for wildlife and how to co-exist with it. We in partnership with KWS took a group of people from Naibunga Community Conservancies to Amboseli for an exchange visit between 8th and 11th April 2014. The main aim of this trip was to educate and raise awareness to the people of Naibunga on how they can co-exist with the wildlife parks/conservancies, how they can benefit from wildlife conservation by accessing conservancy resources like water, pasture, firewood without illegal actions. All this is for their own benefit and for the benefit of wildlife.
Amboseli is a good model for farmers/pastoralists co-existence with private conservancies. Pastoralists and their livestock have been an integral part of the Amboseli ecosystem for more than three thousand years. The Maasai communities around the Amboseli Park have developed an agreement with the park for accessing the park resources without causing conflict between them and the park management. This is an idea which can be adopted in Laikipia. Amboseli National park was gazetted in 1974 and covers an area of 390 km2. This is located within the extensive 9,200km2 Amboseli ecosystem.
There is a high degree of similarity between the Amboseli ecosystem and the Laikipia ecosystem, this is both in eco-climatic conditions and also in the economic activities of the people as most of the people there are pastoralists.
Some of the problems faced by the Amboseli communities include Human-Wildlife Conflict; this involves elephants, hyenas, lions, jackals and hippos. Water problem; there is scarcity of water for people, livestock and wildlife. There is loss of habitat, loss of species, loss of livelihood, encroachment of wetlands by people among others. Land use pattern is also a challenge in the area because there are people settling along the border of the park.
The Laikipia community had a talk from the senior research scientist on the management of water and wildlife. The warden spoke on the mitigation measures that Kenya wildlife service is taking to enhance a good community relationship.
Amboseli Park management developed an MOU with the community on allowing livestock to the water in the park, this MOU allows the people to bring in their livestock into the park’s water between 10am and 2pm when most of the park visitors are resting. KWS also allows the community women to sell their products just at the gate entrance of the park.
The Predators Consolation Fund(PCF) is one of the projects that is helping the communities in the area in terms of mitigating human-wildlife conflict.
This project is funded by the Maasai Preservation Trust with a lot of financial contribution from the National Geographic. When a cow is eaten by a predator, the owner is given Kshs 20,000 as a consolation. In case of a goat being depredated, the farmer gets Kshs 3,000 from the project. The group ranches contribute 30% of this money while 70% comes from the National Geographic. There are predator scouts equipped with motorbikes, cameras and GPS for verification of these cases.
Other ways in which the Amboseli community are benefiting from wildlife conservation is by getting schools built for them through the Amboseli CSR, Education bursaries, cultural tourism through introduction of cultural bomas and community lodges. One of the major community lodges in the area is the Satao-Elerai lodge.
Education and awareness raising on wise use of water and habitats is one of the key measures of ensuring there is environmental sustainability in the Amboseli ecosystem. The Amboseli Park management also helps to restore the habitat by providing tree seedlings to the surrounding communities to plant in their land.
The contribution of the rural economy to the development of the County is not well documented. By increasing understanding of its strengths and weaknesses, opportunities for the County Government to harness and maximise its potential to achieve the desired future for Laikipia can be identified.