Engaging Maasai Communities to Protect and Secure Space for Wildlife

August 3, 2017

Kenya Placeholder
Kenya

Engaging Maasai Communities to Protect and Secure Space for Wildlife

About the Implementing organization

Name: South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO)

Country: Kenya

Year of establishment: 2004

Type of organization: Ethnic minority group or association

Description

Over 70% of Kenya’s wildlife is found outside of formally protected areas, on community land. Maasai, a local pastoral community of the Kenyan South Rift, have coexisted with wildlife for centuries. Their traditional way of moving with their livestock prevents land degradation and permanent settlements, providing a landscape in which both people and wildlife can thrive.

But much of the traditional range of these communities has been lost to immigrant communities through land subdivision and young Maasai now opt for formal education over traditional herding, as pressure to diversify income sources is high. The waning of the traditional Maasai cultural values and knowledge poses a serious threat to the future of wildlife.

By putting communities and their traditional ways first, empowered pastoralist communities can create a safe space for wildlife and can reduce human-wildlife conflict.

By joining forces, the trust between communities and wildlife authorities can be restored.

Together, local scouts, Maasai and the Kenyan Wildlife Service can adequately respond to human-wildlife conflict and wildlife crime events. They help to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts, which helps to reduce poaching, also in neighboring ecosystems. The approach offers the young Maasai youth the opportunity to make a living as scouts while at the same time protecting their heritage.

Nature Element

Wetlands / Grasslands / Wildlife

Type of Action

Protection / Sustainable use / Advocacy for land & water rights

Sustainable Development Element

Jobs and livelihoods / Peace and security

Related Sustainable Development Goal(s)

  

Environmental Impacts

As part of SORALO’s mission to improve on wildlife crimes protection in the region, the impacts have been multiple. Scout operations in security and wildlife protection remains SORALO’s major activity in combating wildlife crimes in the region. Patrols have been done in the various clusters in joint collaboration with other security agencies in the region including KWS. The scouts focused has been on anti-poaching activities in protection of elephants across the region, curbing of game meat poaching, joint cross cluster patrols and meetings and the general wildlife monitoring. SORALO has sustained a cordial transboundary working network by sharing of security and intelligence information in combating wildlife crimes. This is through the development of several partnerships with other organizations in the south rift. These include the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Big Life Foundation, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Tanzanian authorities across the border.

Sustainable Development Impacts

The identified impacts for each sustainable development element are as follows:

1 / Strengthen disincentives for illegal behaviour: Create a strong community scouts network (40 scouts) actively combatting illegal wildlife trade and environmental crime.
2 / Increase incentives for stewardship: Facilitate and develop financial and non-financial benefits of wildlife through development of community conservation areas and community grass banks.
3 / Decrease costs of living with wildlife: Encourage the creation and use of grazing plans, conflict prevention plans and promote traditional cultural practices of coexistence.
4 / Support non-wildlife related livelihoods: Assist in the development of zonation and land-use plans to encourage sustainable agricultural practices, and improved livestock breeding programs and market access.

Scalability

In the early 2000’s the first two community conservancies in the region were established – Shompole and Olkiramatian. Since then SORALO’s scope and reach has expanded across the South Rift region and new potential areas are been targeted.These are wildlife potential areas for the establishment of community conservancies for the protection of the greater Amboseli and South Rift dispersal areas. For instance, Emotorngi is a new possible area. The major challenge is that people, wildlife and livestock share water from one source in this area and has the potential human wildlife conflicts in the region as a result of shared resources. These serves as a connecting transboundary ecosystem from Amboseli National Park, the area offers an opportunity for collaboration and partnership in wildlife security in the region between SORALO, Big Life and KWS. The action could be scaled and will enhance security and monitor wildlife movements to curb poaching and other related wildlife crimes in the area.

Replicability

SORALO’s initiative is engaging and strengthening local communities and CSO’s as active agents to prevent and combat wildlife crime and manage wildlife resources sustainably. Since its establishment, SORALO has used community-based conservation as a tool to enact its vision. SORALOs conservation programme puts communities and their livelihoods first, which can subsequently create safe spaces for wildlife and people. This action can be replicated across Maasai communities, and is already been introduced through cross-border exchanges with Tanzania. While strengthen disincentives for illegal behaviour SORALO’s also ensures the protection of pastoralist livelihoods is a crucial priority through: decreasing the cost of living with wildlife, increasing incentives for stewardship of wildlife, and supporting non-wildlife related livelihoods.

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