Theme 7: Capacity--Oral Sessions

Description

The Indigenous Kenyan Maasai community has coexisted with the wildlife surrounding it for decades from Nairobi National Park, Maasai Mara and Amboseli. These parks border Maasai lands. Although the northern, eastern, and western perimeters of the Nairobi National Park are fenced, the southern part is not. It is at this point that the Maasai community’s land meets the park. This area also acts as a wildlife dispersal area where wildlife can freely migrate to other parks, including Maasai Mara and Amboseli. The park is only 117sq kms and its vitality depends on the plains to the south where the Maasai live so that the animals can migrate in and out. Without that open space, the park would be little more than a zoo. The fact is that approximately 60 to 80 percent of wildlife in Kenya is outside formally protected areas.

For the Maasai community, wildlife poses an enormous threat. As herbivores migrate during the wet season, they are followed by predators such as lions. Livestock are an easy target for them. A lion attack can be devastating, ruining family lives and livelihoods. Lions have traditionally been the Maasai tribe’s greatest adversaries; they are a deadly threat to the cattle and other livestock that are both an integral part of the Maasai culture and the tribe’s greatest source of wealth. Despite the ongoing livestock predation, lions may be the tribe’s strongest hope of preserving their way of life.

With these in mind, it becomes imperative that we think of systems for better correlation between all aspects of conservation and understand that the wildlife, livestock, and the surrounding pastoral communities play a key role in each other’s survival.

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Wildlife Conservation and the Role of the Indigenous Communities Living around Conservation Areas

The Indigenous Kenyan Maasai community has coexisted with the wildlife surrounding it for decades from Nairobi National Park, Maasai Mara and Amboseli. These parks border Maasai lands. Although the northern, eastern, and western perimeters of the Nairobi National Park are fenced, the southern part is not. It is at this point that the Maasai community’s land meets the park. This area also acts as a wildlife dispersal area where wildlife can freely migrate to other parks, including Maasai Mara and Amboseli. The park is only 117sq kms and its vitality depends on the plains to the south where the Maasai live so that the animals can migrate in and out. Without that open space, the park would be little more than a zoo. The fact is that approximately 60 to 80 percent of wildlife in Kenya is outside formally protected areas.

For the Maasai community, wildlife poses an enormous threat. As herbivores migrate during the wet season, they are followed by predators such as lions. Livestock are an easy target for them. A lion attack can be devastating, ruining family lives and livelihoods. Lions have traditionally been the Maasai tribe’s greatest adversaries; they are a deadly threat to the cattle and other livestock that are both an integral part of the Maasai culture and the tribe’s greatest source of wealth. Despite the ongoing livestock predation, lions may be the tribe’s strongest hope of preserving their way of life.

With these in mind, it becomes imperative that we think of systems for better correlation between all aspects of conservation and understand that the wildlife, livestock, and the surrounding pastoral communities play a key role in each other’s survival.