An assessment of the large mammal component of the proposed wildlife sanctuary site in Maasai Kuku Group Ranch near Amboseli, Kenya

Many pastoral communities that share rangelands with wildlife are looking for direct benefits from wildlife resources found on their land. In the group ranches around Amboseli National Park, the Maasai community is hoping that wildlife-based ecotourism ventures will earn them direct revenue. However, for ecotourism, prerequisites such as tourist attractions (especially large mammals), community willingness and support, tourist and tourism investor opinions, support of conservation stakeholders, and economic viability need to be assessed. This paper focused on the large mammal resources of the proposed Kuku Community Conservation Area (KCCA) and compared them to surrounding existing protected areas. This includes a preliminary survey of large mammal density and distribution on the group ranch; identification of a potential location of the sanctuary based on preliminary findings; and estimates of large mammal density and diversity in comparison with protected sites. Point counts, road transects and foot transects were used to count the large mammal species. The proposed KCCA and its Corridor were comparable in density of wildlife to Amboseli Park and Kimana Community Wildlife Sanctuary (KCWS) despite also supporting high densities of livestock and human settlement. Further, the proposed sites had consistently higher large mammal species diversity than Amboseli Park. There were large mammals of interest to tourists, including members of tourism’s ‘big five’, making the selected location suitable for establishment of a wildlife sanctuary. The proximity to these famous parks, the presence of attractive physical features (such as Mt Kilimanjaro and Chyulu Hills) and Maasai culture makes the proposed KCCA viable for ecotourism. The model of the proposed KCCA should incorporate local access to resources (such as water, pasture and plant resources) during times of scarcity and therefore make it a multiple-use conservation area with critical resources for pastoralism as well as supporting ecotourism.

Last Updated
January 26, 2021
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