Biodiversity is in a constant battle for space and resources with humans. As a result, a growing number of species, particularly large mammals, are coming into conflict with humans. Rhinos and large carnivores, for example, suffer the brunt of the conflict’s costs and are either critically endangered or quickly falling. Others, such as the African elephant, have significant human impacts and are in the odd position of being both an endangered and, in some cases, a pest species.
Conservationists face a difficult task in identifying measures to reduce conflict between wildlife and people, whether local communities or visiting tourists, so that mutually beneficial outcomes can be achieved. This is a difficult task that necessitates a thorough grasp of the issues in each case, as well as diligent monitoring and adaptive management based on educated decision-making and stakeholder consensus.
Many of the current difficulties in biodiversity conservation can be found in the Mara ecosystem in East Africa. Despite being a large area with two major protected areas, its large mammal population requires access to broad, unprotected dispersal ranges occupied by agro-pastoral human settlements, who are gradually changing the landscape. Similarly, its scenery and fauna have piqued the tourism industry’s interest. As a result, a wide range of human-wildlife conflicts can be found both within and around the ecosystem’s protected zones. These conflicts pose a serious threat to ecosystem survival in general, as well as big mammalian populations in particular.
Against this backdrop, the Masai Mara Wildlife Conservancies Association (MMWCA) through partnership with various stakeholders such as the Nature Conservancy (TNC) launched various initiatives that facilitates collaboration between landowners and tourism operators, with the goal of allowing landowners to earn money by leasing their own land to the conservancy which in turn creates large, unfenced areas for wildlife movement, tourism, and livestock management.
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