As people try to improve their livelihoods, they turn to activities such as farming and livestock. Wildlife and livestock had coexisted for thousands of years, and the Maasai Steppe—one of the world’s richest wildlife areas—is proof that traditional pastoral strategies can sustain both. Today, however, livestock compete for land with wildlife, agriculture, and people, making it a struggle for herders to improve their economic outlooks. African Wildlife Foundation works with African communities to provide sustainable economic solutions that ensure conservation goes hand in hand with productivity.
Wildlife travels outside of its protected spaces in national parks and reserves and tends to come into livestock ranges, where it grazes in the same areas as livestock.
People are working to improve their economic situations and are depending on traditional livelihoods, like agriculture and livestock. If not managed properly, these livelihoods conflict with each other and with wildlife welfare, as people fight for scarce land.
AWF works with local herders to create sustainable, economically viable solutions that improve livelihoods and are rooted in conservation. In Siavonga, Zambia, in AWF’s Zambezi Heartland, we are working with local communities that own large populations of indigenous goats. In this district, food security challenges are high due to erratic rains, rendering sustenance on crop agriculture impossible for a population of more than 7,000 people in the Simamba Chiefdom. Local communities turned to unsustainable land-use activities, such as charcoal burning, quarry stone crushing, and slash-and-burn agriculture. AWF piloted a commercial goat enterprise that assists local farmers in improving their revenue base, thereby reducing their tendency to engage in unsustainable livelihood practices. We also assist in finding markets where the community can sell the goats at competitive prices.
AWF works to eradicate poverty in pastoralist communities while simultaneously protecting landscapes, livestock, and wildlife. AWF, with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), launched the Livestock for Livelihoods Program in two Heartlands—Maasai Steppe in Tanzania and Samburu in Kenya. In Maasai Steppe Heartland, the program is carried out on Manyara Ranch where AWF works with ranch management to help surrounding communities realize better returns from livestock raised in sustainable ways, including grazing and water management, breeding, and extension service improvements. In the Samburu Heartland, AWF introduced a revolving livestock fund in partnership with local pastoralists and Ol Pejeta Conservancy. The program is structured to guarantee market access to local herders on the condition that they comply with sustainable rearing and grazing practices. Just six months after the project’s start, 350 heads of cattle had been purchased through the fund, earning herders $167,000. The boost to livelihoods, from the program, reduces pressure on the landscape from activities such as subsistence farming and charcoal burning and provides a stronger economic base for conservation activities.
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