In November 2016, Sakimba Kimiti, a research assistant with the Amboseli Conservation Program, defended his master’s titled, Rangeland Resource Dynamics and the Implications for Pastoral Livelihoods in the Amboseli Ecosystem, Kenya. Sakimba was interested in describing the local community knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of the extent of change in rangeland resources in Amboseli. Changes in the ecosystem monitored by ACP over the last few decades include land fragmentation, loss of grazing areas, changes in land tenure, restricted herd mobility due to increase in human settlements, changes in land use, and loss of pasture productivity. How well do local perceptions reflect the changes, and what is missing in the changes measured? Few studies have compared traditional and scientifically monitored information.
Sakimba integrated scientific approaches and local knowledge to assess changes in the Amboseli ecosystem over time, the causes of changes and the impact of the changes on pastoralists. He stratified the Amboseli ecosystem into nomadic, semi-nomadic and sedentary land uses under group tenure and private holdings. The four decades of change were divided into a pre-park period (1967-76), pre-settlement (1977-86), post-settlement (1987-2006) and the post-2009 drought.
From the resource maps drawn by the community, grazing areas have declined significantly over the period. The decline was more pronounced in the sedentary subdivided lands and the semi-nomadic locations, less so in nomadic locations. Areas of cultivation have also expanded over the period in both sedentary and semi-nomadic land sites. The changes have led to a reduction in household herd size in all the land locations, with the biggest declines in the sedentary land use sites.
The results of the study show that pastoralism remains a key livelihood strategy in Amboseli. Monitoring rangeland changes through community perceptions is a vital step in designing sustainable strategies for managing change and in strengthening participatory planning process.
Click link for full paper
Community perceptions on spatio-temporal land use changes in the Amboseli ecosystem, southern Kenya