Rangeland privatization and the Maasai experience : implications for livestock herding, open space, and wildlife conservation in southern Kenya Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/ft848s53n

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  • For centuries in what is now southern Kenya and northern Tanzania, nomadic, Maasai livestock herders have coexisted with vast populations of wildlife. Today, both wildlife and the Maasai herding lifestyle, a vital component of Maasai culture, are threatened by changes to the landscape and losses in mobility, including the policy of privatization and subdivision of communally owned Maasai Group ranches in Kenya. Based on the claims and practices of Maasai livestock herders living in southern Kenya as well as observations and conversations with key informants, this study describes the relationships between traditional livestock herding, open space, and wildlife and how subdivision as affected traditional livestock herding as a land use. Key findings were that the subdivision presents both challenges and opportunities for conservation Maasai communities. This study provides new insights into how livestock herders are adapting to privatization and how subdivision is affecting traditional decision-making and social interactions regarding natural resource management and the ability to adapt to a changing climate. Subdivision has fragmented the social and biological landscapes that the Maasai have traditionally relied on for subsistence. Subdivision has made it difficult for livestock to access water and to negotiate dry seasons and survive droughts. Elders no longer have jurisdiction over livestock herding, and migrating to seasonal pastures is no longer feasible for many livestock herders as subdivision has brought an end to communal reserves. Traditional resource management and sharing mechanisms are threatened by subdivision and the selling of land to outsiders. Many landowners are sharing access to grazing land and water resources in order to continue keeping livestock. Because of subdivision wildlife/human interactions have increased and, in some cases, wildlife are no longer present in great numbers. Other factors contributing to the difficulties brought about by subdivision include climate change and human population growth.
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