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Title: Coping with human-elephant conflict in Laikipia District, Kenya
Author: Nyumba, Tobias
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2008
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In many parts of Africa, large herbivores find their way into private lands, competing for forage with livestock and destroying crops. In Kenya, elephants (Loxodonta africana) pose a real threat to subsistence farmers at the interface between the elephants’ range and agricultural land. Conservation and land use strategies and policies in Kenya do not take into account the needs of the rural poor and tend to prioritise wildlife protection at the expense of the people. At the same time, rapid population growth has put protected areas under intense pressure through encroachment. Human-elephant conflict is only a microcosm of the wider ecological struggle for survival between humans and wildlife. In this study, data is analysed on the human-elephant conflict in the subsistence smallholder farming areas in south-western Laikipia. The study investigated the human-elephant conflict patterns and the various measures deployed by smallholder farmers to protect their crops from elephant incursions. The results show that: 1) Crop raiding is the most common form of HEC in Laikipia, 2) Farmers in Laikipia extensively deployed traditional techniques, 3) Contrary to the widely held inefficacy of these techniques, they were effective in the short term, 4) Most HEC incidents were not detected while in progress and 5) The Kenya Wildlife Service was unable to attend to many complaints despite nearly all the incidents being reported. Based on the interpretation of the results, two models for coping with human-elephant conflict are identified: 1) To strengthen the capacities (traditional conflict mitigation techniques) and the knowledge of the local people sharing their landscape with elephants to cope with human-elephant conflict and 2) The promotion of alternative livelihoods that consider wildlife compatible practices through a comprehensive land use and conservation policy review to integrate both human and wildlife needs.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Cambridge Commonwealth Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Human-elephant conflicts ; Mitigation techniques ; Elephant conservation ; Livelihoods ; Subsistance