Sunday, 8 March 2009

Pastoralists conserve wildlife habitats to protect rare species

Olkiramatian should take heed lest they are left behind in the trend:
This article appeared in the Business Daily Africa.

March 2, 2009: The drive to boost earnings from tourism has seen a rise in the number of wildlife conservancies in the country as ranch owners and pastoralist communities strive to take advantage of free roaming wildlife on their land.

The new trend has seen the creation of five new wildlife conservancies in the last one year alone while more are in the pipeline.

While the numbers may appear small, they point towards new areas that entrepreneurs seek to make money and utilise land hit by constant droughts. The new conservancies are Keiwa, Suswa and Mailwa in the South Rift region and Enoonkishu and Naboisho in the greater Masai Mara area.

Their creation now brings to nine the total number of conservancies created in the last four years.

The rapid increase of the conservancies has mainly been driven by growth in the tourism industry in Kenya in the last five years and the need to mitigate changing land use in wildlife dispersal areas.

Tourist arrivals have increased, with 1.8 million visitors coming into the country in 2007 up from 866,000 in 2003. About three million are expected to visit the country by 2012, according to projections by the Kenya Tourism Board.

This has given rise to the conservancy boom as ranch owners and communities move to take advantage of the growth.

Conservancies are areas explicitly set aside for professional management of wildlife in a way that helps maintain their habitat and increases their numbers and species. Most conservancies are located in areas rich with free roaming wildlife which forms 60 per cent of the total wildlife population in the country.

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