Group ranches host significant proportions of Kenya’s terrestrial wildlife populations—including elephants that live outside or use lands beyond protected areas—and are predominantly inhabited by pastoralists. Since its implementation in the 1960s, the group ranch model has struggled to meet the demands of rising human and livestock populations and climate change impacts. Constrained by a lack of open space critical to their livelihood and facing dwindling prospects, group ranch pastoralists are increasingly sedentarized and diversifying into cultivation and tourism, often at the expense of wildlife populations and ecological processes.
The population of the Kilombero District in Tanzania is heavily reliant on agriculture. Approximately 100,000 small-scale farmers cultivate predominantly rice and cocoa. On average, their fields are only around 0.5 hectares in size. Roughly 35% of the farmers are female. Economic dependence and lack of management knowledge lead to high losses during both harvest and processing, resulting in insufficient income.
Though they live next to Tanzania’s largest national park, residents in the villages surrounding Ruaha National Park see no benefits from the presence of wildlife, particularly carnivores.
A s part of the Serengeti–Mara ecosystem, the Naboisho area in southern Kenya sees tens of thousands of wildebeest and zebra pass through the landscape each year. But the area began experiencing pressure from uncontrolled development and overgrazing. With the assistance of a few operators, among them ecotourism operator Asilia, the Maasai landowners in Naboisho formed a conservancy in 2010— eventually transforming a degraded landscape into a prime tourism destination.
At more than 30 million sq. km, the continent of Africa could accommodate the United States, China, India and Europe and still have room to spare. Open, wild land on the continent is becoming scarcer, however.