Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Exhibit Hall NE & SE, Albuquerque Convention Center
Background/Question/Methods Involvement of local communities in conservation has been recognized since the 1950s as essential to the success of wildlife conservation in developing nations. This study is an exploratory examination of community perceptions and the cost of conserving wildlife in the Loitokitok District of the Amboseli region, southern Kenya. Using a semi-structured questionnaire, 349 community members were interviewed. Key informants, including the senior warden of Amboseli National Park and eco-tourism lodge managers, were interviewed as well. Data were analyzed using contingency tables and chi-square goodness of fit tests. Results/Conclusions Respondents were mostly Maasai (62%), lacking secondary school education (83%), and practicing either agriculture or pastoralism (>99%). Negative affects from wildlife (81%), through crop damage or livestock predation, were omnipresent. Most of the population (94%) believed that the presence of monetary benefits positively influence the success of community conservation, though most feel the distribution of benefits is inequitable. Fifty-nine percent of respondents noted the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) as the biggest beneficiary from wildlife conservation, and 73% felt that the local community should receive more than 50% of the revenue generated by Amboseli National Park each year. Lodges have attempted to involve the community in the booming tourist industry, although their efforts only reach the Maasai surrounding the park. The lack of interaction between KWS and local community members has devastated conservation success in recent years, and tensions are high. The future success of community conservation in the Amboseli region hinges on sufficient revenue sharing between KWS and those community members affected most by dispersing wildlife.