Approximately 70 percent of Kenya’s wildlife species are found outside protected parks and reserves. In these rangelands the wildlife shares space with pastoral communities and their livestock. Due to land use changes and climate changes, the habitat has become increasingly degraded leading to less forage and a rise in cases of human wildlife conflict. In collaboration with our partners, we conduct land surveys, restoration projects, integrated water management, and cattle breeding improvement programmes on Group Ranches which act as buffer zones for wildlife roaming outside the national park.
LAND SURVEYS & RESTORATION PROJECTS
ACC partnered with JUSTDIGGIT Foundation, Amboseli Conservation Program (ACP), and Amboseli Ecosystem Trust (AET) in the restoration of portions of Olgulului Ololorashi Group Ranch. It is the largest community owned group ranch out of six group ranches located in the Amboseli ecosystem. The 1,232km² group ranch acts as a buffer zone for wildlife roaming outside the national park.
ACC and partner organizations carried out land restoration activities which included management of soil erosion, grass reseeding, and digging water bunds that would increase water retention. The project also trained and supported three women groups (with a total of 104 members) about grass seed and hay production as a source of income.
To better understand Olgulului community knowledge, attitudes and practices related to biodiversity conservation, land and grazing management and the restoration project, ACC conducted a socio-economic survey.
Six research enumerators, a resources assessor, and a research assistant attended two-day training before the data collection exercise commenced. The survey was led by ACC’s Project Assistant, Fridah Mueni.
A total of 519 respondents were interviewed during the survey. 54 percent said livestock and livestock products were their main source of regular income. 62.4 percent of the respondents said they did not receive any income from conservation and tourism. Regarding human wildlife conflict, 47.2 percent of the respondents said that conflict had increased and 43.5 percent felt the incidences had decreased. Still, 68.8 percent mentioned that they had experienced incidences with the wildlife during the last year. These cases included damaged fences, crop damages, livestock deaths and human deaths.
The study also showed the community was aware that keeping large numbers of livestock can have negative impact on the environment, and there is need to adhere to regulated grazing management rules to conserve the rangelands.
The study recommended continuous assistance to the communities to ensure sustainable grazing practices for healthy rangelands. There is also a need to document and build on the existing knowledge, attitudes and practices. ACC and the implementing partner organizations will integrate the findings from the survey into future conservation projects in Amboseli.
CATTLE BREED IMPROVEMENT PROGRAMME
The Maasai pastoral community largely relies on livestock for their economic sustainability. Their livelihood is rooted in having large herds of free ranging cattle that share the same grazing areas with wildlife. However, land subdivision and fragmentation of open rangelands, increase in population and keeping large numbers of livestock has constrained the grazing spaces.
ACC through its Breed Improvement Programme advocates for quality versus quantity. This is where pastoralists keep fewer high-quality animals that appreciate in value. This approach ensures less pressure on the ecosystem, while generating more income for the pastoralists.
ACC launched the programme in 2018 by donating 10 bulls to Rombo Group Ranch and 10 bulls to Imbirikani Group Ranch. The goal was to improve the quality of livestock in the community by introducing a higher quality breed. However, three bulls died due to disease and two were killed by lions.
Despite the challenges, in December 2020, ACC organized a workshop for group ranch members where they shared their achievements and challenges. Participants shared the benefits of the bulls that have so far produced 198 high-quality calves for the community. One of the bull beneficiaries, Joel Lepiro, said he was able to get 46 calves from the breeding programme. He is delighted that the quality of his herd continues to improve.
The participants were trained in technology and innovation to support the breeding programme and encouraged to embrace livestock breeding and management practices that will ensure minimal production costs, use the rangelands sustainably, manage proper livestock records, and ensure high-quality livestock and products.
WATER MANAGEMENT IN MAGADI
Five years ago, ACC rolled out the Integrated Water Management (IWM) program along the Ewaso Ngiro South River basin in Magadi. Lack of rainfall over several years lowered water levels, making it a scarce commodity for people, livestock and wildlife. Competition for water has led to conflict among local communities. To help these communities collectively manage their water resources, ACC and the IWM program formed three new Water Resource User Associations (WRUAs) and connected with nine existing WRUAs. “When you wake up you need water to drink, bathe and farm,” said Moses Lemunge, the Secretary of the Entasopia Water Resource Users Association, emphasizing the importance of water in his community.
ACC partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries to train farmers on modern methods of water irrigation, such as the use of sprinkler irrigation. Previously, farmers had flooded their farms, leading to evaporation and poor crops. “It is important to sensitize the community to the benefit of water resources, especially women since they are the main water users and suffer more in case of a shortage because they have to walk long distances to fetch water,” said Julius Muriuki, IWM’s Project Officer.
To show how people in other areas of Kenya had learned to farm sustainably, ACC brought community representatives on field visits to Laikipia and Naivasha. They also held workshops and community open-air meetings. The community embraced the IWM project and took up farming, mainly producing eggplants, okra, sweet potatoes, bananas, and assorted vegetables for local market and export.
With ACC’s guidance, community members have also undertaken beekeeping, goat rearing for milk production, and tree planting to conserve water catchment areas. ACC was instrumental in setting in motion the propagation of bamboo plants in the area. Bamboo reaches maturity in only three years and is valuable for protecting the soil, purifying water, and providing firewood. It can also be used to produce a variety of products, including baskets, furniture, and water pipes.
In just five years, ACC has directly impacted 11,700 households in Magadi, who now have access to clean water for farming, beekeeping, and livestock production. ACC continues to run the water project in partnership with the South Rift Association of Landowners (SORALO), a community-based initiative created to bring landowners together for the effective management of resources.
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