To fight severe problems with poaching, the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) was created in 1989, replacing the WCMD, which had come to be considered a failure in many respects (Honey 1999: 298-301). As a semi-autonomous self-governing state corporation (Otuoma 2004: 5) the KWS has its own board of trustees, manages its affairs internally and is financially independent of the government (Honey 1999: 299), receiving its funding from revenues from tourism as well as donors (Honey 1999: 293-338). The KWS took over all management of Kenya's wildlife heritage in and outside protected areas (KWS 1994: 1). Up till today, it directly manages all national parks, while playing an oversight role over the national reserves such as the Mara, which remained under management of the county councils (Honey 1999: 299, Kabukuru n.d.). In line with the earlier mandates of wildlife departments in Kenya before and after independence, the mandate of KWS is 'to conserve Kenya's natural environment and its fauna and flora, for the benefit of the present and future generations both in Kenya and in the world' (Otuoma 2004: 5, see also picture 3.1).
Initially KWS director Richard Leakey proposed to fence off all protected areas to protect the wildlife from poachers and the local people from wildlife (Western 1998: 1507). Many felt that besides being impossible to pay for,95 this would mean a disaster for the gross of Kenya's wildlife (Benirschke et.al. 1998: 1510, Raven 1998: 1510, Rutten 2002: 7, Western 1998: 1507), and the policy was withdrawn in favor of increasing local incentives: Leakey announced that approximately 25% of the KWS’s funds should go to communities neighboring protected areas to provide them with schools, clinics and water supplies (Rutten 2002: 7). In addition he proclaimed that the KWS would be self-supporting within five years, at the end of 1996. However, he could not fulfill either of these promises (Honey 1999: 301, KWS 1994: iv, 7).
In March 1994 another white Kenyan, conservationist David Western replaced Leakey as head of the KWS, and he phrased even more positive measures towards the local communities to overcome the community-wildlife conflict. He focused on ecotourism as a means to make conservation economically competitive. Besides the principal goals of conserving biodiversity and linking conservation and tourism (Honey 1999: 304), his three main objectives for the community were the development of partnerships, creation of incentives, and protection of people and property from wildlife damage (Rutten 2002: 8). The KWS would strive to turn over ten percent of the park revenues to the local community (Honey 1999: 304). Western even toyed with the idea of lifting the hunting ban to generate income by reopening limited commercial hunting for certain species besides elephant and rhinos and a draft Wildlife Policy of 1996 in addition recommended to allow wildlife utilization in dispersal areas and private ranches (Honey 1999: 305). However, implementation of these ideas again turned out to be difficult and when tourism and therefore KWS income stagnated, partly because of political violence surrounding Kenya's elections, rains brought by El Niño (Honey 1999: 306) and increased competition for wildlife tourism from countries as Zimbabwe and South Africa (Rutten 2004: 10), Western was dismissed from the job and to the surprise of many, replaced with his predecessor Leakey in 1998 (Honey 1999: 306, Rutten 2002: 8).
Leakey's excellent reputation with donors was supposed to open doors leading to funds that were much needed for restoring the KWS as an organization as well as Kenya's wildlife-based tourism sector (Rutten 2002: 8). The new 1996 draft of the Wildlife Policy was never tabled in parliament (Kabukuru n.d.). Only in 2007 another Draft Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Bill was produced, under current KWS director Julius Kipng'etich, which included proposals for wider compensation, and some restricted wildlife utilization, not including sporthunting.96 However, the new draft has not passed parliament yet and is still subject to adjustment. Although some locals are moderately hopeful the new bill will bring them better terms, many are skeptic as well. In the meantime the KWS still deals with the population under the old terms, mainly through the KWS Community Wildlife Service, which will be described below. It would be interesting to see how they manage to reinforce their mandate and position, as well as how the local people defend their own interests and livelihoods vis-à-vis the state.
The KWS community wildlife service
The KWS community wildlife service was found in 1992 by Leakey to 'forge an effective partnership with communities living adjacent to parks and reserves, including protecting people and their property from wildlife damage' (Honey 1999: 301). The community service organizes baraza, negotiates fence-lines with the community,97 contributes to workshops and community projects and organizes educational trips for schoolchildren (pictures 3.2 – 3.4). At some places the organisation has contributed only little, but at other places it has been of great value in helping communities to set up wildlife conservation projects (Rutten 2002, Rutten 2004: 13). However, most local people know the community service and KWS best through their Problem Animal Control (PAC) activities. Despite a constant insufficient availability of cars, rangers and material (see also KWS 1994, Smith & Kasiki 2000, pictures 3.5 – 3.7), KWS officials react to the daily, sometimes overwhelming, incoming reports of wild animals that are a threat to crops, livestock and people (Smith & Kasiki 2000: vii).98 The KWS community office is also the place that is first to deal with the filing of compensation issues.99 The only institutionalized form of compensation is for human injury or death, and currently amounts Ksh 30.000 (US$ 448) for loss of life, and up to Ksh 15.000 (US$ 224) for injuries. There is no compensation for damage done to crops or livestock loss.100
From scaring elephants with fireworks and transporting injured locals, to trapping and relocating leopards and assessing damage done to crops, sometimes guarding a village or field for days, many KWS employees work hard under rough circumstances as materials and housing conditions for the gross of the employees can be considered poor, involving cars with broken doors and radiators and one-room family huts made of metal sheets. Lack of manpower and material are experienced by higher officials as well101 and KWS itself addresses its problems in dealing with human-wildlife conflict to the fact that they are 'both ill-equipped and under-staffed' (Otuoma 2004: 37).102 According to the official documents of the KWS Community Office in Voi from September 2006 to August 2007, on average 13% of the reported cases in the area under jurisdiction could not be attended. There were only two months in which all reported cased were attended, and in October 2006, 44% of all cases remained unattended because the PAC vehicle was unserviceable. A considerable number of cases could only be attended one or more days after the report was brought in.103
The KWS last and maybe most important task is to reinforce the ban on almost all consumptive use of wildlife, and guard all natural resources within the national parks. This means keeping people and livestock out of protected areas,prevention of poaching and tracking down handlers of trophies or bushmeat. To protect Kenya's resources, KWS rangers are non-stop present and combing through remote areas, on foot or by car, handing out fines and making arrests, sometimes staying in remote ranger outposts for months at a time. According to the Arrests and Prosecution Reports of the Voi KWS Community Office of the first half of 2006, generally between 30 and 50 people were arrested per month, involved in ten to twenty different cases. Illegal entry and taking cattle into the park were by far the most important reasons for arrests and offenders were fined between Ksh 2000 (US$ 30) to Ksh 10.000 (US$ 149) or, when they could not pay this, thirty days to three months in jail. Possession of trophies and hunting gear was less common,104 and punished with fines of Ksh 4000 (US$ 60) or two months up to three years jail.105
Interactions between locals and KWS
In chapter two it became clear that the local Taita and Maasai living with wildlife feel that wild animals have become arrogant as a result of their protection. In general they feel that the KWS insufficiently helps them to deal with wildlife related problems, while at the same time being to rigid in enforcing the wildlife's protection. I will now describe the main interactions with the KWS from the point of view of the local people.
In the first place, compensation is considered to be inadequate.106 Because of the lack of infrastructure, such as proper roads, public transport or telephone network, reaching the KWS community office can be both difficult and costly. Almost all people complain that there is no compensation at all for destruction of livelihoods by wildlife. The existing compensation for injuries and especially for death are felt to be insufficient.107 Locals feel that the amount of money does not compensate them for the loss of a loved one or a breadwinner (see also KWS 1994: 7).108 Moreover, the bureaucratic procedure involved in compensation is perceived as long and complex, and makes it difficult for most poor or illiterate people in remote areas to obtain the compensation.
Some locals believe that compensation claims are sometimes filed, and the money is send by the central government in Nairobi which pays the compensation, but it never arrives at the victims because local KWS officials put it in their own pockets. Corruption is a large problem in almost all government institutions, but it has to be said that people not understanding the complex and often lengthy procedure soon assume the money is or will be misappropriated, sometimes leading them to stop investing in the for them difficult and costly procedure involving filling out forms and visiting the community office.
This attitude is not surprising, seeing that there is a history of 'administrative paper shuffling, inaction and time-buying tactics to avoid paying compensation for death, injury and damage' (KWS 1994: iii, see also Smith & Kasiki 2000: 5). Between 1989 and 1994, at the Voi KWS Community Office in Taita-Taveta, elephants were reported to have killed 26 and injure 10 people. During this period, the local compensation committee met three times, but no one received compensation (KWS 1994: iii, 17).109 A good example of the difficulties still involved in the procedure is the story of Kandonde Kisango,110 the victim of an elephant attack in the Taita area, which was described earlier in chapter two.
Waiting for compensation Although grandfather Kisango has a right of compensation by KWS the family has not seen any money to pay for his hospital bills. The family members take care of the man themselves, waiting for the compensation, but have very little means. Sympathising with the situation, the KWS community office sends a car to the remote farm, in order to bring the old man to hospital every
time that is necessary. According to the stamps in his medical booklet, the old man has been there
over ten times since the incident.
However, the KWS community warden Thondu says that the compensation papers can only be filed when Mr. Kisango has healed completely. Whether he survives and how long the medical treatment takes, is of importance for the amount of the compensation. ‘If there is still improvement, we should wait,’ reasons the warden. To help the old man survive, his family is suffering. The biggest problem is to pay for the medicine and the doctor, they tell me. They sell their goats to collect the money, confirms Umazi Mwaruwa, a local village elder who keeps a record of crop destruction by wild animals in the neighbourhood.
Problem animal control
KWS problem animal control is generally considered to be inefficient.111Again there is often the problem of contacting the KWS at the moment that they are needed. In addition, a lack of manpower and material makes it impossible for the KWS to cover either the whole area or all threats and incidents filed. This means that sometimes the KWS comes a day or more after the incident, or does not even show up at all. Even if the people manage to reach a telephone or radio quickly and the rangers set off directly, the size of the area under their jurisdiction and the state of the roads still makes that they can arrive only hours later. In the meantime the local people are not allowed to take the actions they feel are necessary to protect themselves and their property against the animals.112
If KWS rangers arrive, their actions are considered to be of limited success as well. They might provide traps if the problem involves carnivores, and hope to catch and relocate the animal. In crop raiding incidents the KWS generally tries to scare the animals off, often by firing flat ammunition or by the use of fireworks. It happens regularly that animals are only moderately scared and come back to continue eating soon after the rangers have left. The KWS’s own 1994 survey on human-wildlife conflict mentioned the common perception that while elephants had 'lost their fear of humans' the KWS is 'reluctant to kill problem elephants' (Smith & Kasiki 2000: 5).113 In addition, local people lack means to scare the animals away, such as torches, and are almost always denied more effective possibilities of defense, such as fireworks, to keep the animals at a distance themselves. The experiences of Mwarigha Moka Nyange, a Taita mzee working as a farmer and businessman in Marungu, can be considered as a good illustration of day to day dealings with KWS PAC from the locals' point of view.
There is no help 'The third of March 2005 I had my donkey tied outside my building, because I did not want it to destroy the crops of the neighbours. Around midnight a lion came and killed the donkey. The next day I went to report it at KWS community office in Voi. They asked my name and said they would come. It was true, they came to my place and wanted to see the carcass. Only the ribs and the head were left. They asked me if I had other animals and than promised they would be coming later to set a trap. But they never came to date [it is now June 2007].
Funny enough, after two months the lion came again and ate two goats, one of them pregnant with triplets. I decided not to go to KWS but brought a report to the chief of the village. In
April this year the lion tried to attack a cow [not far from my house]. The shepherd hit it with a stick and made it run off. But after that, at ten in the morning it killed three of my goats again, eating one and a half and carrying the other one off. Again in May it came right to the cattle boma and took out another goat at night, which left a young that was suckling. Even two of the previous ones had left kids and I was left with the problem to find them milk. One died but two are still surviving. I also still suffer because of the loss of the donkey, because it helped me with so many things, such as fetching water and firewood, and I feel I should be compensated.
Than in February this year also the elephants came to my shamba where the maize was almost ready, and destroyed two and a half acres. I rang KWS and they came. I showed them what the elephants had done and they wrote something down – I don’t know what – and said: If the elephants come again, just ring us.’ [Laughs loudly]. His friend reacts: ‘The lion can come back tonight, as far as he [Mwarigha] is concerned, there is no help.’114
Denying access to resources
Local people consider KWS' enforcement of the Kenyan laws protecting wildlife and their habitat inappropriate in many instances.115 An example is that the areas surrounding unfenced parts of Tsavo West are so overgrazed that there is only dust left for the Maasai herds to scratch in. However, some tens of meters further down, across the line where the unfenced National Park starts, an abundance of grass and bushes lure untouched. It is no surprise herdsmen here and in the Mara area experience problems with the rangers. Koshal Liaram, a herdsmen in the Mara area grudgingly reacts to the rangers chasing him and his fellow herders out of the protected areas during the dry season: ‘If they really need green pasture, the livestock just fall down and die.’116
In the Taita area locals feel the same way about the KWS prohibiting them to deal effectively with crop or livestock raiding wildlife. The faith of Mr. Balagu, who recently snared a leopard after it had taken his goat, and tried to sell the skin, is discussed in the villages, as he has been send to prison for a year.117 A lady from the Taita area, who constantly battles the elephants around her home, feels she can do nothing but try to scare them. ‘If we kill an elephant here, everyone will suffer from the hand of the wardens and the government. Even a small child will be hit so it will say who has done the killing.’118
People resent and fear the hard-handed arrests by KWS rangers, who are fully equipped with military weapons and training, regularly including the accompanying approach. The long sentences in Kenya's dreadful overcrowded jails are generally considered disproportionate consequences of handling bushmeat or killing wildlife in defence. Olkoinaasi Ole Kuya, a Maasai elder states: ‘People are very fearsome now to kill an elephant. You can be taken [by the authorities] and not seen again.’119 The fear of jail and the authorities exists in both communities, but seems to be stronger in the Taita areas. In some places in the Taita area there are rumors of harassment by KWS rangers. They would hang out on people's land for extended periods of time without working, demanding water and food from the local residents. In the area of Mwagwede, the rangers of the KWS are known for their alcohol consumption and abusive language,120 and in many places they are infamous for their hard-handed arrests which can involve beatings and abuse.
Snaring a poacher 'In the 1980s a person was discovered with snares near Maktau. He was told to put is head through one of his snares and was almost choked, until his eyes started coming out. He had just a small impala with him, but was imprisoned for many years. The game wardens of KWS are very cruel, more so than the police. If they find someone with bushmeat they don’t ask questions, but just use force. They beat you to the maximum.’121 Despite the fact that many KWS employees are working hard under difficult circumstances, and have successful episodes in solving community-wildlife conflict through organizing workshops and meetings, placing fences and handing out traps, issuing compensation, problem animal control, and the protection of wildlife and protected areas, in the eyes of the local people their performance is often regarded as inadequate, inefficient and intimidating. This is partly due to the difficulty of the position and task of combining wildlife protection and the well-being of the community, which will be further explained in the next chapter. For now I will go into the details that most clearly sharpen the confrontation between KWS and local people, which are violence and the magnitude of the stakes involved for the community.
Violence in wildlife protection
The approach and amount of force being used by the KWS in dealing with the community, is often considered intimidating or even violent, and therefore feared and resented. The KWS often makes use of (secret) informers within the communities,122 sometimes drives large herds out of protected areas using helicopters, killing cows in the process,123 and is known for its hard-handed arrests (see also Strom 2007). According to the Five Person Review Group, KWS personnel have a 'reputation for brutality ... rangers [being] accused of killing innocent people with guns, beating suspects with whips and destroying houses and crops' (KWS 1994: vi).124
As other African nations, Kenya has a history of rangers being armed with automatic rifles and orders to shoot to kill poachers (Bruner 2001: 894, Dzingirai 2003, Honey 1999: 300, Neumann 2001: 319, Njogu 2003: 207). At times the KWS has been considered 'better armed than the police, in possession of a better communication network and with mobility comparable to that of the army' (Njogu 2003: 213). Recently in Kenya three KWS rangers and four poachers were killed in a gun battle. One of the poachers was wounded and arrested. The poachers were believed to be on their way to Tsavo East National Park, when they walked into a KWS ambush at 1.45 am. KWS Director Julius Kipng'etech explained that the men where crossing a bridge when ordered to stop, but instead opened fire. He commented: 'It is unfortunate that we lost three of our rangers and another was injured but we managed to fell four' (Kithi & Otieno 2007: 7).
Violence and intimidation in wildlife protection is known throughout Africa.125 Neumann even describes 'violence against people [a]s inherent and perpetually latent in the practice of state-directed wildlife conservation in Africa' (2001: 306). This situation exists because the availability of weapons, which are necessary to defend oneself against wildlife in remote areas. In addition,
in much of colonial Africa, both European hunting and wildlife conservation efforts were closely associated with military activities. People trained by the state in the use of weapons and application of weapons – former police, prison or military personnel – have been traditionally the primary source of recruits for game rangers.... This history is today reflected in the paramilitary style of organization of most wildlife and park agencies in Africa (Neumann 2001: 307).
Most wildlife rangers today still undergo (para)military training,126 and dress in military uniforms (KWS 1994: xi, 24), which was explicitly developed during the large scale poaching of elephants and rhino in the 1980s (Neumann 2001: 312-322). Moreover, as the KWS employees are not supposed to be(come) too personally or deeply involved with the local people, it is general KWS policy not to put someone to work in his home area,127 and to move higher officials from offices in one area of the country to the other, without much warning, something that reminds of the British colonial system.
Other factors adding to the harsh practices are of a more geographical nature. In the generally remote areas involved the chances that illegal acts can escape prosecution are considerable. This is the case for poaching, but it is also the case of acts of violence against people, as accusations of the use of excessive force are difficult to prove (Neumann 2001: 307). It can also be argued that in remote areas that are difficult to control the use of excessive force is instrumental because it discourages potential offenders that otherwise would have been difficult to catch.
Livelihoods at stake
The concept of livelihood encompasses 'the ways in which a social group supports itself within an environment while providing the necessities of life – including sustenance, housing and health/welfare' (Marks 2001: 125). It involves striving 'to make a living, to meet ... various needs, to cope with uncertainties, to respond to new opportunities, and to make choices within a particular socioeconomic, cultural and ecological frame' (Marks 2001: 125). Historically the lands that are now protected areas have often been taken from local communities, generally without providing them with proper compensation or any alternatives to secure their livelihoods (Neumann 2001: 307-314). In the case of the Mara, the Maasai were gradually driven out, first by obliging them to resettle, and later by taking their grazing rights, although these areas were especially important during droughts (Emerton n.d.: 12, Honey 1999: 308-310, Lamprey & Reid 2004: 998, Rutten 2004: 4,8-9). With the creation of the Tsavo National Parks, the Waata elephant hunters were completely deprived of their means to make a living (Ville 1996: 70-71) while the Taita lost their access to grazing lands and access to hunting, especially important during lean times (Emerton n.d. 12, Ville 1996: 69). According to Neumann
[a]n important part of the process of modern state formation in Africa involved the central government securing control over natural resources, such as wildlife, that were vital to rural livelihoods. This was conducive to violence exchanges, such as assaults and occasionally killings, because the stakes were often high. People had to choose between fighting and going hungry (2001: 307).
In Kenya, the protection of wildlife as a national resource continues to be important to the Kenyan state, as is the defense of their livelihoods to the local communities.
Despite decades of efforts to make local communities benefit more from wildlife conservation, for instance through tourism, the costs local communities in Kenya nowadays experience from 'the existing legislation, which prohibits all aspects of wildlife utilization except viewing and photography' (Otuoma 2004: 40), and the opportunity costs of alternative uses of land that are foregone or diminished by the presence of wildlife, are generally much higher than the profits (Emerton n.d., Norton-Griffiths 1995, Otuoma 2004).128 Emerton (n.d.) notes that the preclusion of wild resource use inside and outside protected areas 'take[s] away vital sources of subsistence and income, including basic needs such as food, water, shelter, medicines, fuel and pasture as well as emergency fall-back goods and services' (n.d.: 12). If there are community projects organized to ease the burden of the protection of wildlife, as is often done in the form of schools and dispensaries, this 'provision of social infrastructure [sic] rarely provides subsistence, income or secure livelihoods to the majority of the community members' (Emerton n.d.: 9). She concludes that '[c]ommunities in wildlife areas are often already economically marginalized and least able to bear these costs' (Emerton n.d. 12).
These conclusions are consistent with the local realities near Tsavo and the Mara. The majority of people from both areas are generally regarded to live near or under the poverty line (UNDP 2005, OECD 2007: 600). They deal with poor public facilities such as infrastructure and medical care, unemployment is a problem, population pressure is high, and the destruction by wildlife forms a large extra burden (Njogu 2003, Lamprey & Reid 2004). Many families have to struggle to make a living, despite the large influx of wildlife related money into the area.
In the Taita area, on the edge of Kenya's most profitable national park (Ndioo 2007: 19), the situation is most dramatic. According to KWS senior community warden Ole Perrio, currently 80% of the people in the district live below the poverty line129 and the locals tell how they regularly rely on relief food (see also Njogu 2003: 211). The Human Development Index (HDI) calculations of 2004 concluded that the annual per capita income in Taita-Taveta district is well below Kenyan average. The district's GDP per PPP130 and GDP index per capita both amount just over half of the national average (UNDP 2005). According to the Human Poverty Index (HPI) 44.2% of the people of Taita-Taveta has no access to safe drinking water, which some community members try to solve themselves by lobbying to find money to lay a new, larger water pipeline from the established Mombasa pipeline towards the Kasigau area. In addition, 77.4% lives with poor access to a qualified doctor,131 and 36% is not expected to survive beyond the age of 40, scores that are all three worse than the Kenyan average.
People's traditional emergency reliance on natural resources has been severely limited. As was discussed earlier, as a result of the ban on hunting the price of bushmeat has sometimes tripled. The ban has resulted in more professionalized and non-selective forms of hunting, but the meat hunted is generally still used for the pot within the community, even if it is sold.A David Sheldrick worker of the Bura Desnaring Team who wishes to remain anonymous says: ‘The standard of living is low, people have little alternatives…. Employment opportunities are low. People have no income and need food.’132 This is affirmed by people in the community and poachers themselves. A Duruma poacher having spent time in jail for his occupation has kept on poaching after his release because he says there is no other work to do. Jonas Kiute, agricultural officer and local of the Kasigau area in Taitaland tells that before 1977 when poaching wasn’t illegal, people used the money to pay the school fees for their children and the meat was used to live on. Now
conservationists have come in and blocked all those channels. The problem with conservationists is that they have told us not to kill wildlife, but have they given us a solution? Not all people are learned or employed and they depend on rainfall which is not reliable. We can stay for two seasons without getting anything from the farms…. In the old days we used to go to the bush.133 The same points are also brought up several times by the people of the Taita-Taveta Wildlife Forum. According to a survey done in the Taita area in 2000, 92% of the people experience food scarcity, 89% water scarcity and 81% health problems (Njogu 2003: 91).
Even though daily observations give the impression that the people living close to the world famous and hugely visited Masai Mara have more money to spend (see also Thompson n.d. 12-13), here the situation is also far from satisfactory. Livestock holdings have dropped below subsistence rates (Lamprey & Reid 2004, Reid et.al 2003) and about half of the Maasai around the Mara live on an income less than a US dollar (Ksh 70) a day (Reid et.al. 2003: 17). Roads and public transportation are very poor. Health facilities, even on the edge of the park, have no clean water and do necessary operations with a torch as there is no electricity. Juma Ole Sampuerrap, who functions as a doctor at Talek, a town at one of Masai Mara's gates, is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week and estimates he serves a population of 20.000 people with his small stock of largely donated medication. Some patients walk for days to reach him, malnutrition, malaria and increasingly HIV being the largest problems.134 In the same town, mothers have set up and invested in their own primary schools as facilities are lacking. That garbage disposal and sewerage are largely non existent is especially a problem in the larger towns that have grown at the Mara's gates.
The latest publication of the Kenya Human Development Index (HDI) in 2004 calculates the overall score for Narok district below the Kenyan average (UNDP 2005: 44-45). The adult literacy index, school enrolment in primary, secondary and tertiary schools, annual per capita income and GDP per PPP are all below the national average (UNDP 2005: 44-45). Even more serious are some of the numbers of the Human Poverty Index (HPI) of the same year: In Narok district 22.5% of the children below five years is underweight, 52.5% of the people does not have access to safe drinking water and 71% lives with poor access to a qualified doctor, again all performances worse than the Kenyan average (UNDP 2005: 48-49).