Please explore the rest of the website to find out about the various initiatives and programs that we have implemented to help preserve Amboseli, including some of the ways that you can contribute.
“How can such enormous numbers of large game live in this extraordinary desert,” the Scottish explorer Joseph Thomson exclaimed on reaching Amboseli in 1883.
HISTORY OF ACP
Jonah Western's Amboseli research house circa 1967
The Amboseli Conservation Program (ACP) began in 1967 when David Western studied the ecology of the Maasai Amboseli National Reserve to address a deep conflict over its status and future. Conservationists, insistent that overgrazing was destroying Amboseli’s famous fever tree woodland and its wildlife, were pressing the government to create a national park and exclude the Maasai. The Kajiado County Council rejected the claim and insisted on control of the reserve and its tourist revenues.
Recognizing the role of pastoralists in the ecosystem, Western studied the interplay of livestock and wildlife, and showed the importance of seasonal migrations and the drought refuges of the Amboseli basin in sustaining their abundance and coexistence. Based on these findings, he proposed that the Maasai should establish a small core park nested within a larger ecosystem that sustained the migrations and the coexistence of people and wildlife. The proposal drew in anthropologists, political scientists, and economists from the University of Nairobi’s Institute of Development Studies, the warden, Daniel Sindiyo, members of the Maasai community and the Kajiado County Council.
The resulting land use plan, produced in 1969, proposed that the pastoral community that had sustained wildlife in Amboseli for generations should be a primary beneficiary of tourism revenues. By 1973 the research studies, land use analysis, planning work, and conservation activities had coalesced into the Amboseli Conservation Program. The program and conservation plan were endorsed and supported by the New York Zoological Society (now Wildlife Conservation Society).
Amboseli causeway 1961 (bottom) and 1976
Working with economist Philip Thresher of the United Nations Development Program, Western drew up a detailed tourism plan for the Amboseli ecosystem in 1973. The plan was overtaken by a presidential edict declaring Amboseli a national park in 1974. A bitter stand-off between local and national government ensued. ACP played a key role in arbitrating a solution that saw the council retain a portion of the park to guarantee its lodge revenues, and the community receive a portion of the gate revenues.
Despite the setbacks in Amboseli, the principles of ecosystem-scale conservation and community-based conservation that ACP established were soon adopted by government and donors and funded by WCS. In the late 1970s, based on the Amboseli model, Western was commissioned by the government to set up the Kenya Wildlife Planning Unit and help draft a new wildlife policy. In support of the new policy, he assisted the government to prepare the Tourism and Wildlife Program, funded by the World Bank. The program saw the Kenya National Parks and Game Department fused into a single agency, aimed at ecosystem-scale conservation and community participation.
Even as ACP's role extended nationally, its work expanded locally in Amboseli. The program promoted new studies and recruited Kenyan and international graduate students. David Andere studied zebra, Chris Gakahu zebra, and Wes Henry tourism behaviour and impact. Tom Dunne and Bill Dietrich studied the impact of grazing and trampling on the landscape. Virginia Finch studied the drought physiology of cattle. In 1973, ACP launched an elephant research program under Cynthia Moss. The project grew into a highly success autonomous study, the Amboseli Elephant Research Project.
The linked human and wildlife studies and ecotourism projects developed in Amboseli soon expanded to other parks, including Maasai Mara, Nairobi, and Nakuru, and attracted a growing cadre of Kenyan and other African graduate students. In the mid-1980s, with the support of WCS, the outreach activities of ACP were formally incorporated into the African Conservation Centre, based in Nairobi. African Conservation Centre is dedicated to conservation and research principles established by ACP in Amboseli and to building national and regional skills in conservation. ACP now works principally throughAfrican Conservation Centre nationally and internationally as well as a large number of other partners.
ACP continues its four decades of work in Amboseli. Its main purpose is to sustain the integrity of the Amboseli ecosystem. ACP is also dedicated to applying its findings to the betterment of conservation nationally and internationally, based on the following goals:
Outcomes & Milestones of ACP Collaborative Efforts -
ACP TEAM MEMBERS
Dr. David Western
Dr. David Western, known as Jonah, began research into savannas ecosystems at Amboseli in 1967, looking at the interactions of humans and wildlife. His work, unbroken since then, has served as a barometer of changes in the savannas and test of conservation solutions based on the continued coexistence of people and wildlife.
Jonah is currently chairman of the African Conservation Centre, Nairobi. He directed Wildlife Conservation Society programs internationally, established Kenya’s Wildlife Planning Unit, chaired the World Conservation Union's African Elephant and Rhino Specialist Group, and was founding president of The International Ecotourism Society, chairman of the Wildlife Clubs of Kenya, director of Kenya Wildlife Service, and founder of the African Conservation Centre in Nairobi. He is an adjunct professor in Biology at the University of California, San Diego.
Western’s publications include Conservation for the Twenty-first Century (OUP, 1989), Natural Connections: Perspectives in Community-based Conservation (Island Press, 1994) and In the Dust of Kilimanjaro (Shearwater, 2001). He is presently conducting a study on climate change in the Kenya-Tanzania borderlands in collaboration with University of California San Diego, University of York, Missouri Botanical Gardens, and African Conservation Centre.
Dr. Victor Mose
Victor is the Deputy Director and Head of Biostatistical Services. He was awarded a PhD in Biomathematics by the University of Pierre and Marie Curie (UPMC), Paris VI, France in 2013. He has a Masters in bio-statistics from the University of Nairobi, Kenya and a Bachelors degree in Mathematics from the same University. He also holds a financial mathematics qualification from the Institute of Actuaries, London, UK.
Victor is experienced in ecological modeling, bio-informatics, and geographical information systems (GIS). His research interests include Population dynamics, migration modelling, Bayesian spatial analysis, ecosystem services and economics modelling, together with biodiversity mapping.
Victor’s publications include Mose, V.N., Nguyen-Huu, T., Auger, P., Western, D. 2012. Modelling herbivore population dynamics in the Amboseli National Park, Kenya: Application of spatial aggregation of variables to derive a master model. Ecological Complexity, 10, 42-51.
Mr. David Maitumo
David has been working in Amboseli as the ACP field officer since 1977. As a member of the local Maasai community in the Amboseli area, David brings a unique perspective to the program. His rich understanding of the interaction of people, livestock, and wildlife, and the challenges facing conservation in human landscapes, enriches his key roles in the design of field experiments and long term data collection and monitoring.
ACP Resource Assessors
ACP resource assessors collect data on vegetation, herbivores and people in selected group ranches in the Amboseli ecosystem. The data is transmitted via cloud to ACP computer servers where it is downloaded and integrated with the long-term database for further analysis. The assessors include, Sunte Kimiti, Samson Lekanaiya and Paul Kasaine working in Kimana, Eselenkei and Mbirikani respectively. Amboseli monitoring continues to show our momentous impact on the African savannas as demonstrated in the many reports on this website.
Ms. Winfridah Kemunto
Winfridah is the Amboseli Conservation Program's database Administrator. She has a certificate from Pitman Training Institute and vast experience in working with big data that involve database management, basic analysis, digital library, data mining and data visualization. Her interests include spatial data mining and presentation. Before Joining ACP, she worked as a data clerk at South Rift Land Owners Association (SORALO).
Mr. Sakimba Kimiti
Sakimba is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Lyon 2 in France. He previously worked as an Assistant Researcher for the Amboseli Conservation Program. He holds a Bachelor of Science (Wildlife Management and Conservation) degree from the University of Nairobi and a Master of Science degree in Range Management from the same University. Prior to joining the ACP, he worked as an Ecological Assistant at South Rift Land Owners Association. At ACP, he is involved in projects dealing with the Dynamics of Predation on Spatial -temporal Basis and in Human Ecology. His other interests include: GIS, remote sensing, satellite imagery, ecological monitoring, land use change and ecosystem vulnerability.
Ms. Immaculate Ombongi
Immaculate is a data analyst at ACP. She has a Bachelors’ degree in Financial Economics from Mount Kenya University. She is experienced in spatial data analysis and modeling of livestock markets in Kenya. Her interests include GIS, remote sensing, satellite imagery processing and analysis. Immaculate as well, supports the analysis team that is working on the Rangeland restoration, a program of the African Conservation Centre, also known as the JUSTDIGGIT project.
Amboseli Conservation Program works closely with the African Conservation Centre. ACP's offices are located in the African Conservation Centre, off Langata Road.
NEWS FROM ACP
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