Large mammals in Laikipia County are both diverse and numerous, perhaps more so than almost anywhere in East Africa. This includes half of Kenya's black rhinos, the second largest population of elephants in Kenya and the globally threatened Grevy's Zebra. But what is perhaps most unusual about the wildlife numbers in Laikipia is that they are stable in the face of a sharp national decline; Laikipia is bucking the trend.
It is a good thing too, as this incredible asset is the basis for a thriving tourism and conservation sector, generating over 1.5 Billion Ksh in revenue, 243 Million Ksh in wages for Kenyans and a further 649 million Ksh pumped into wildlife conservation and community support projects (security, education, health, etc.). All of this is threatened for two simple reasons. One, Laikipia has no government designated protected areas. Two, there is no plan for how to ensure this extraordinary wildlife asset can be maintained for future generations in the face of human population growth and land use change. It is for these reasons that the Laikipia Wildlife Conservation Strategy is being developed.
The Laikipia Wildlife Conservation Strategy is an initiative of the Kenya Wildlife Service & Laikipia Wildlife Forum, funded by the Royal Netherlands Government. It is the beginning of a process of mobilising the people of Laikipia behind a common vision for the future of wildlife in this area. The process is being led by Dr Max Graham (Space for Giants) & Dr Charles Musyoki (KWS), working under the guidance of the LWF Conservation Committee. The Strategy Will:
- Identify the current status and trends of wildlife populations over time
- Identify the main threats to wildlife and barriers to conservation
- Identify opportunities and capacity for conservation
- Propose appropriate conservation action that can be implemented by the people of Laikipia
- Propose further research for supporting effective conservation action.
Conservation has no value without being relevant to the realities of the people who control and use the resources that need to be conserved. Achieving conservation goals is largely down to human choice.
We will work out what local stakeholders want in relation to wildlife conservation and assess their willingness and capacity to undertake conservation activities. This will be achieved through a large number of consultative meetings and informal interviews with different clusters of stakeholders. These clusters include the government at all levels, the owners and users of land, researchers and conservation NGOs.
The Targets for this Initiative are the A, B and C of conservation:
Area: Secure as much contiguous and secure natural habitat as possible for wildlife in the Laikipia landscape.
Biodiversity: Secure and maintain the natural diversity of life in the Laikipia landscape.
Connectivity: Ensure that the structure of the Laikipia landscape allows wildlife to move freely across space and time.
The Steps for this Conservation Strategy are:
- Undertake a situation assessment
- Run a series of conservation planning meetings
- Hold the Laikipia Wildlife Conservation Strategy Conference where a draft strategy is reviewed and refined by all stakeholders.
We aim to complete the strategy in July of 2011.