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Lions and Lambs...
Alex Steffen, 29 Apr 04

As world population continues to grow, more and more people come into conflict with nature, and almost always nature loses. This we know. However, there are some bright spots, like this story of a Maasai-led effort to find a way to raise livestock while protecting Kenya's Kitengela Corridor:

"To the government, safari firms, and tour operators, wildlife means income. Less-tangible value is placed on East African wildlife by caring people around the world. But to the Maasai, wildlife is largely a cost. The carnivores eat their livestock, and the herbivores consume their livestock's grass. They play host to the goose that lays the golden egg, but derive little benefit from it.

"...research showed that returns from livestock were low and unreliable, and crop farming was even less profitable. But the Wildlife Conservation Lease Programme, costing just $4 per signed-up acre per year, effectively doubled the income of the poorest households, and offered to many the opportunity to pay their largest and most important bill--school fees.

"One interesting finding was that wildlife and livestock could be mutually beneficial. Constant 'mowing' of the grass by certain grazers can create a "lawn" of high-quality, rapidly growing grass. As ILRI ecologist Robin Reid observes: 'Conventional wisdom says that the best way to conserve wildlife is to separate it from people, but in the East African context, this thinking may be seriously flawed.'

"Perhaps the greatest long-term benefit is the empowerment of the Kitengela Maasai community. Armed with knowledge about livelihood options, improved breeding and health services for their cattle, and monitoring changes in their environment, they are in a stronger position to make informed decisions regarding their own future."

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