A systematic aerial sample survey of Laikipia County (9666km2) was carried out in April 2016 by Kenya’s Directorate of Resource Survey and Remote Sensing survey teams in partnership with Laikipia Wildlife Forum and Mpala Research Centre, with funds from US AID. This report presents the preliminary results as a basis for use by management and for discussion on further analysis and application.
The Laikipia upland plateau between Mount Kenya (5199m) and the Aberdare highlands (3999m) is an important area for Kenya. As a semi-arid savannah it is well suited to pastoral livestock production and ranching, which is compatible with wildlife. Dominated by livestock it also has wildlife abundance second only in Kenya to the borderlands, notably the renowned Masai Mara National Reserve and tourism has become an important land use and income generator. In the south western higher rainfall region, agriculture is of increasing importance and to the north Laikipia is part of the Ewaso drainage system, which forms a continuous ecosystem for many species, linked with the conservancies and National Parks and Reserves in this more arid savannah of Meru and Samburu counties. Largely privately owned and mainly unfenced there are a diversity of sizes of holdings, land and water use and management practices. Under Kenya’s current constitution and development Vision 2030, County governments also have a major management interest and certain national developments such as power lines, roads, rail lines and water management and dam projects are planned for the area and need information to help minimise negative impacts and maximise efficiency.
It is therefore important for stakeholders to have accurate data in useable formats for management, tackling problems and long term planning. Systematic aerial surveys have been carried out in Laikipia since 1985 using basically the same method, but the most recent previous survey of this kind was in 2012 and up-dated information was needed. Repeating the same method enables a long term monitoring and analysis of trends of livestock, wildlife, land use, habitats and threats. Systematic Aerial Sample Survey, the SRF system of Norton Griffiths 1978, is also the most cost effective way of obtaining a wide range of objective information systematically over the whole area.