What’s in a Name?
For many in Laikipia, the use of the word “wildlife” with regards to Laikipia Wildlife Forum has always meant a preference for “wanyama wa pori”, or wild animals, for the custodians of our large tracts of rangelands. This is only partly true.
LWF has long served a wide variety of members without any direct relationship to wildlife.
We have supported peace and security efforts among conflicted areas – both human and wildlife.
We have supported healthy rangelands, and worked with 26 water resource user associations to manage and conserve scarce water resources.
We have helped members build new enterprises based on the generosity of Mother Nature, and we’ve helped tourism to grow in Laikipia as a new form of land use, to generate income and employment.
These are hardly “straight-up wildlife” programs- they are varied and targeted at both human communities and the animals that share the land with them.
The main focus of LWF has always been its “Mission” – to conserve Laikipia’s wildlife and ecosystem integrity and improve the lives of its people. It’s because of our land use and our approach to land management as custodians that we are able to extend benefits to Laikipians. Here are a few examples:
Pure ranching and mixed ranching produce almost 3 billion KSH per year in Laikipia. An additional 650 million KSH are spent on supplies and inputs. Almost 775 million shillings are spent on wages. And more than 160M KSH are used to pay taxes at national and local levels.
Tourism facilities in Laikipia have historically generated more than KSH 320 million per year in the semi-arid and arid areas of Laikipia. They spend at least KSH 150M on local supplies. They pay a minimum of KSH 55 million in wages, with most employees being local. And tourism land use contributes at least 13M KSH in taxes per year for national and local authorities.
Custodians of large acreages in Laikipia have typically paid more than 200M KSH each year into their vicinities in the form of infrastructure, services, and development. Most of this comes from wildlife tourists and wealthy friends who believe that wildlife and people can live together. Other parts of this annual payment come from land holders who have plenty and choose to share it because they believe in being good neighbours.
Because large areas of land are kept as rangelands that tolerate or encourage wildlife, we benefit. We benefit from food, from employment, from tax revenues, from development, and from the conservation of our national and world wildlife heritage.
As we continue to consider “what’s in our name”, as part of our strategic planning about LWF’s future, you can expect both our focus, and yes, even our name to change.
We are moving towards greater membership engagement in projects of your making.
We are moving towards stronger neighbourhoods to make a greater impact on projects and programs that benefit everyone who live in them.
We are moving towards greater engagement with County Government and our county neighbours, to improve our land use planning and management, and to make our management of resources more sustainable both inside and outside of county lines.
So far, our strategic planning has shown that our members want to be stewards of their own environment, custodians of their land, and caretakers of our heritage.
Certainly, that can’t be a bad thing.