Man vs. Wildlife
Young Male Lion Killed by Maasai Warriors after it Killed a Cow, Kitenden, June 2012
Running out of space : the conflict between man and WILDLIFE
by Richard Bonham
Simply put, the outcome of the battle of competition for space between wildlife and mankind will ultimately determine the future of wildlife.
Today, this battle is raging in the Amboseli ecosystem:
Huge portions of wildlife habitat have already been lost to agriculture. Key wetlands, once the last resort grazing areas in the times of drought, have been turned into tomato farms. Rivers which once flowed from Kilimanjaro to Tsavo have been pumped dry for irrigation. Corridors linking key grazing areas are closing, and growing domestic livestock numbers intensify the competition for limited grass and water. And in the meantime, the human population continues to snowball.
This competition for space leads to human/wildlife conflict, which comes in many forms. Wildlife in search of food and water invade farms and destroy crops and livelihoods. Predators take a daily toll on livestock. The Maasai pastoralists' lifeline, and unmanaged grazing policies, add to the burden by expanding grasslands degradation.
It's worrying and depressing, but it is not too late. There ARE solutions to these problems.
Wildlife, and the tourism that come with it, are generating revenue and employment for the people who inhabit the ecosystem. The local communities are also now recognizing the value of wildlife, and are prepared to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate them.
Land is being set aside in the form of corridors and conservancies for the exclusive use of wildlife. Answers are being sort to alleviate predator/livestock conflict in the form of compensation, and improving livestock husbandry and fences planned to create barriers between farmland and wildlife areas.
All of this costs money. Elephant-proof fences cost $12,000 per kilometer, and a minimum of 20 kilometers are needed at this moment in time. Predators kill approximately $300,000 worth of livestock a year across the 2 million acre ecosystem, and natural resource management programs are expensive to operate.
Going forward, Big Life recognises that one its greatest challenges will be to find ways to address and mitigate the growing human wildlife conflict in the ecosytem.