Sustainability and policy options for wildlife-rich rangelands in East Africa.
ABSTRACT- Similar to North America, people have strongly influenced the distribution and abundance of free-ranging wildlife populations in East Africa over the last few centuries. This presentation will first discuss recent historical trends in wildlife populations in East Africa and probable causes of those trends. People currently affect wildlife through direct harvesting for sport and bushmeat, changes in land tenure, armed conflict, and intensification and expansion of different land-use practices. Recent research suggests that people can both positively and negatively impact wildlife populations through the way they use and own land. It also is apparent that some species are more sensitive to human use than others and that there may be some thresholds in human-wildlife relationships, where further intensification of human use can cause strong and unexpected declines in wildlife populations. National policies that avoid armed conflict and insecurity are probably the most effective ways to avoid catastrophic loss of wildlife populations. Outside protected areas, significant changes in policies that determine the value of wildlife to local peoples are needed to provide communities the incentives to conserve in the face of 20-50% poverty levels. Policy that promotes current privatization of formerly communal land needs to be carefully implemented to avoid escalation of human-wildlife conflicts and fragmentation of rangeland resources for pastoral peoples and wildlife alike. Some of the best ways forward will likely combine local and tested practices of communal land management with innovative incentive structures that encourage conservation from other parts of the world.
Key words: pastoral peoples, wildlife conservation, East Africa
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