Universiteit van amsterdam opleiding antropologie en sociologie der niet-westerse samenlevingen


Animals are more important than people



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Animals are more important than people

The people that live near the protected areas of the Mara and Tsavo often do so under difficult circumstances. Even though the Kenyan government has been occupied with the idea that local communities should benefit from wildlife, mostly in the form of community projects focused on public facilities, the people in Narok and Taita-Taveta still experience an enormous lack in public services. In combination with their low income, many are truly defending their livelihoods in their interactions with wildlife. The difficulty of reinforcing measures to protect wildlife, the problems Kenya has had in the past with controlling widespread poaching, the lack of material and manpower, and the culture of wildlife related law enforcement in most African countries make that it no surprise that the methods and amount of force being used are often considered intimidating or even violent by the local communities.

As a result of the combination of violence reinforcement of wildlife protection almost all informants in the Taita and Maasai area feel that wildlife belongs to the state,135 and bitterly joke that they are feeding the wild animals with their livestock and crops, while their ownership lies with the government. In addition, the amount of public service, the existence of protected areas, the burden wildlife forms on their livelihoods and their day-to-day interactions with KWS gives local people the feeling that the government finds wildlife more important than the care for its citizens. An elder from Buguta voices what is felt often among the locals: ‘It is better to kill a human being than an animal. If you kill a [wild] animal you will suffer more.’ His wife reacts: ‘It is as if animals are more important than humans. If you defend yourself or kill a dikdik [for food] you go to prison. If a person is killed it can take the authorities a day or more to come. But if an elephant is killed they are there straight away.’136 In the 1994 survey on human-wildlife conflict done by order of the KWS, this view was already observed nationally: 'People's perception is that the government loves animals ... more than people' (KWS 1994: iii, see also 1994: 17, Njogu 2003: 203, Smith & Kasiki 2000: 5).137
Dealing with authorities

In chapter two we have seen that the people of the communities that live near the Mara and Tsavo are not passive victims of the wildlife they share their home areas with. Living under difficult circumstances they are also not undergoing their treatment by the state passively. Scott (1985) argues that if neither outright collective defiance nor rebellion is likely or possible, the poor still defend their interests as best as they can by using commonplace forms of resistance, which he calls the “weapons of the weak”. These are forms of struggle that are mostly based on implicit understandings and informal networks avoiding any direct confrontation with the authorities or their norms (Scott 1985: 29), and include dissimulation, false compliance, pilfering and sabotage (Scott 1985: xvi).

As a result, instead of open defiance a relatively quiet piecemeal process takes place, which is concerned largely with immediate, de facto gains. The power of this process in shaping history is considerable and has often been underestimated (Scott 1985: xvi-xvii). However, the 'direct objective ... is typically to meet such pressing needs as physical safety, food, land or income, and to do so in relative safety' (Scott 1985: 35). In dealing with authorities the people of Tsavo and the Mara make use of a combination of these 'weapons of the weak' in an active defence of their livelihoods, and play their part in influencing the realities of wildlife protection.138

Continuing illegal use

As has been described in chapter two, illegal use of wildlife and wildlife areas and forbidden forms of defence of property against wild animals continue, often in defence of daily livelihoods. At times, Maasai herds can be seen grazing inside the Mara National Reserve almost daily. The herders sometimes leave the animals to graze in protected areas unattended, which makes it difficult to identify the owner of the cows, or they quickly split up in different directions as soon as rangers appear. If a Maasai has killed a wild animal and the authorities come to investigate, usually it is impossible for them to find out who is the perpetrator, as the whole community forms a block, playing silly, not remembering anything of that day, and only coming up with useless or confusing information. Donald Arthur Mulira Sakwa, originally from Western Kenya, has worked as a KWS Ranger around the Mara for three years. He tells: ‘It is normal for the Maasai to go after an animal themselves, but they are not allowed to kill it. We can arrest and report them, but when they do it [kill a wild animal], they do it with the community, in a group, in our [KWS] absence. When you go there they don’t say who is who or who did what.’139

When speaking to authorities or outsiders, Taita as well as Maasai deny consuming any kind of bushmeat, or using other wild animal products. In front of a group of tourists James Simiren declares something which can be heard often: ‘We despise people that hunt and gather, there is no place for that in our society. We eat livestock meat, not wild meat and if we see someone hunting we will spear him.’140 When a Maasai man from Ololulunga speaks of the Maasai way of life he tells me the same story: ‘The Maasai have a taboo on eating wild meat. We do not use it.’ The funny thing is that later on, when we get to know each other better, the same person reveals to me the details about this taboo and the practices of hunting of the Maasai people. In the Taita area denial of the use of bushmeat is also the case. According to former teacher James Mlamba Kibwana you can go to any school in Taitaland and ask even the smallest children in class whether they have ever eaten a dikdik, and they will all say: ‘Never! We have never tasted one’, because their parents heavily impressed upon them the importance of keeping bushmeat quiet.141

Although the killing or use of animals in the lands of the Taita and Maasai is still existent or even common it is not spoken off, except in confidential situations with people you know well. The denial of forbidden use helps to avert prosecution, but it also hides the complexity of the interaction and coexistence between locals and wildlife. As such, it facilitates for the local lobby for more compensation and a bigger share of the wildlife related money that the nearby protected areas generate.


Lobbying for more benefits

In meetings with local people, the issue of the lack of compensation or the minimal amount of it comes up almost always, and when Taita speak to authorities such as KWS, the issue of compensation is always mentioned. Lobbying for more benefits is common, often in combination with exaggerated accounts of good behaviour. Naboru Ene Tira, a circa 68 years old Maasai lady, claims that Maasai leave animals alone nowadays and that therefore they should get some form of benefit: ‘Before if a hyena or lion kills livestock everyone went out to kill it…. The KWS should [sic] participate in compensation, because now we are patient with the animals; we don’t kill them.’142

In the Maasai as well as the Taita areas people form umbrella organisations such as the Taita-Taveta Wildlife Forum, Narok Wildlife Forum and Kecobat to represent the interests of the local communities in wildlife issues. Their main concern is the search for more tangible benefits for local people. During KWS organised baraza, for instance the one on fencing held June 2007 in Voi, one of the major points that keeps popping up is that the local Taita tell the KWS that they do not benefit enough. The locals express that they 'love the wildlife very much [and] want to drink the milk of the elephant’143
Killing or threatening to kill

On the other side of the spectrum of strategies, local people threaten to kill or kill wild animals, especially charismatic mega-fauna, trying to extort benefits or compensation payments. An example is that Maasai who had trapped a hyena went to the hyena research project camp inside the Mara, requesting money in return for not killing it. In general, threats to poison wildlife are most widespread. Not seldom these threats or actual deeds are successful (Rutten 2002: 5): After killing over 42 lions in a time-span of twenty months (Maasailand Preservation Trust 2003) the Maasai of Mbirikani, a group ranch bordering Tsavo West National Park, are now one of the only people in the country who are compensated for all livestock lost by predators, through Richard Bonham’s Predator Compensation Fund.144 But also on a smaller scale threats might work. The Taita mzee Mwarigha Moka Nyange, whose problems with the PAC of KWS got described earlier, finally got rid of his lion after he reflected out loud on why he should not kill it, while he was at a public meeting with the district officer, an important local authority. ‘Two days after the meeting the lion was trapped, caught and taken away, maybe because I said I would shoot it.’145

By hiding and negating their uses of wildlife, lobbying for compensation and benefits and killing or threatening to kill animals that are considered important by conservationists, the Taita and Maasai defend their livelihoods vis-à-vis the Kenyan state by making use of the weapons of the weak. Generally without openly challenging the idea and importance of conservation that leads the state's actions, they strategically try to diminish the burden this practice lays upon them.146
The Maasai as more effective defenders

The Maasai generally have a more bold attitude in their dealings with wildlife and authorities than the Taita. During a visit to Endoinyo Erinka in August 2007, I saw the carcass of a half eaten antelope lying openly on the roof of one of the houses, the owner reacting that he was feeding the meat to his dogs. Hyena traps are set permanently near homesteads out in the open and even hyenas trapped with KWS traps are sometimes speared.147 The Maasai are also more proactive in defending themselves and their property, building upon the boldness of the (young) men in the warrior age-group (Rutten 2002: 15), their more combative cultural history and the general availability of weapons, such as spears, clubs and swords, which are still carried around customarily.148 They also seem to be more aware of their rights, self-assured and successful obtaining their compensation and benefits. The Maasai regularly claim to have plans to kill certain animals during meetings or in front of authorities, while Taita only seldom do so. Confronting the KWS, people form a block to keep the authorities oblivious and at a distance. The fact that Maasai communities are close communities, which are largely undivided by other tribes149 or witchcraft, makes that they are more successful than the Taita.

In the Taita area people are more cautious and fearful in their encounters with wildlife as well as authorities. The Taita have less effective weapons, more wage labour migration of able bodied men and a graver memory of confrontations with the law-enforcement power of the state. It is well remembered that when the Kasigau residents attacked the elephants raiding their food supplies with bows and (poisoned) arrows in ‘98/’99, a gulf of prosecutions followed.150 This is not to say the people of the Taita area never take the right into their own hands, but they are definitely more quiet about it. The Taita resent the treatment of the Maasai by the government, who seem to get away easier with threatening to kill or killing wildlife and owning animal products. The way in which the Maasai's disobedience of the law is sometimes tolerated by the authorities is stinging to the Taita.151 Besides their effective strategies of coping with the authorities, the international fame of the Maasai, which is linked with their reputation of fierceness against wild animals and tradition of living outside jurisdiction, might also play a role in their slightly more privileged treatment.

As will become clear in the next chapter, international ideas and attitudes have been and continue to be very important in Kenyan efforts to protect charismatic mega-fauna, and can be used by the locals in their defence of livelihoods vis-à-vis the state. Proposals and funds to alleviate human wildlife conflict often come from international sources, and are focussed on solutions as fencing, diminishing population growth, proper land-use planning and redirecting and strengthening the KWS (Kabukuru n.d.). However, the most important proposed solution is (eco)tourism, often including aspects of community based conservation, which is the subject of the next chapter, that deals with wildlife as an international resource.




Chapter 4

Working with Tourism

'Money fly in, money fly out'

Juma Ole Sampuerrap152



Ecotourism and Kenya's charismatic mega-fauna

Charismatic mega-fauna are regarded as an international heritage. This is for instance indicated by their general international protected status, their use as 'conservation symbols' (Freeman & Kreuter 1994: 7) – for instance by conservation organisations such as the WWF – and their popularity as objects of international tourism. Mainly having survived in the wild in Third World countries, these animals attract increasing numbers of overseas visitors. Tourism is often put forward as the solution to cover the national and local costs that come with wildlife conservation (Bonner 1998, Sinclair 1994). Wildlife tourism is largely seen as non-consumptive: Viewing and photographing charismatic mega-fauna is regarded to be supportive instead of destructive for their existence because of the spread of awareness of the animal's non-us values, while tourism has been put forward 'as a 'smokeless' (nonpolluting) industry' (Honey 1999: 9). The income generated through tourism can bring the host-country foreign exchange and support the livelihoods of local people.

As some reservations concerning the impact of mass tourism on the environment and local populations were realised quickly, more 'green' forms of tourism developed. This '“green” travel, such as wildlife tourism or ecotourism is especially regarded 'as a “win-win” solution for the Third World, the environment, the tourist and the travel industry' (Honey 1999: 4). Ecotourism does not only include environmental concerns, but also aspects of community based conservation, a strategy which 'aims at conserving wildlife and/or biodiversity while providing incentives to local people (Ros-Tonen, Zaal & Dietz 2005: 10). Local populations are increasingly seen as important because continued wildlife conservation seems to be impossible without their support (Marks 2001, Reid et.al. 2003, Rutten 2004: 5, Western & Henry 1979: 417). As the people coexisting with wildlife are often focussed on overcoming poverty or furthering development, they do not generally regard conservation as a first priority. Lamprey and Reid state that '[i]t has become a conservation dictum in Africa that the survival of the continent's wildlife, and particularly of its 'megafauna', into the twenty-first century will depend on the goodwill of local communities' (2004: 998).

The Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as '[r]esponsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people' (Honey 1999: 6, see also Lemayian & Mombo 2007). So called 'green' forms of tourism, which (claim to) make efforts to reach these goals, are probably the most rapidly expanding sectors of the tourism industry (Honey 1999: 6), and one of the fastest growing industries in Sub-Saharan Africa (Rutten 2004: 6). With international tourism to developing countries increasing (ibid. 8), the year 2002 was declared the International Year of Ecotourism (Rutten 2004: 3).

However, the idea that local communities should be included to share from tourism benefits is not new, and was already practised in Kenya in the 1950s, through the payment of hunting fees. For 26 years, until sports hunting was prohibited in 1977, rich white hunters paid a game fee for each animal shot to the local district council (Lamprey & Reid 2004: 998). In addition, in this period the management and benefits of various reserves in Kenya were handed over to local county councils (Lamprey & Reid 2004: 998-999, Western & Henry 1979: 417). The Masai Mara Game Reserve's management was granted to the Narok County Council in 1961,153 which used tourism money for community projects (Honey 309-310). As such, the Mara is often considered the earliest ecotourism project of Africa (Honey 1999: 308-310) and by 1990 was regarded as 'Africa's most sustained success in incorporating local communities in conservation' (Honey 1999: 201). Historically being Africa's most popular wildlife tourism destination (Honey 1999: 294), Kenya has long been 'hailed as the world's foremost ecotourist attraction' (Honey 1999: 294).
Deceptive publicity and ecotourism lite

While in the press ecotourism businesses are often lauded for their successes (Rutten 2004: 30), in the academic world the general tone is a lot less optimistic (Berkes 2003, Brosius 2004, Duffy 2000, 2002, Dzingirai 2003, Honey 1999, Marks 2001). The success of Kenya and its protected areas as ecotourist destinations are limited, especially regarding their achievements to provide benefits and incentives for local communities (Emerton n.d., Rutten 2002, 2004, Strom 2007, Walpole & Leader-Williams 2001). The need for locals to benefit more from tourism, is still the main message of the Wildlife Conference held in Nairobi in 2007.

The largely distorted image produced by visual materials such as newspapers, magazines and television is the result of fruitful marketing strategies as well as the alliance between the tourism industry and the (travel) press. 'The tourism industry, including the travel press, has come to view “green travel” as a marketing tool to attract the growing number of environmentally and socially conscious travellers and to open new, unexploited destinations' (Honey 1999: 19 see also Wight 1993). The concept of ecotourism has been adopted, popularized and watered-down by the tourism industry and is now often 'used indiscriminately to describe anything related to nature or unrelated to conventional tourism' (Honey 1999: 21). In addition 'sophisticated marketing techniques often allow the travel industry to appear “green” without making fundamental or costly reforms' (Honey 1999: 47, see also Wight 1993), something which is generally referred to as 'ecotourism lite'. This includes the use of buzzwords such as bio- or nature in advertisements (Honey 1999: 48), the exchange of ecotourism awards between large tourism players as airlines and international hotel chains (Honey 1999: 50-51) and the use of symbols, such as the Green Globe, which are not connected to any actual changes but can simply be purchased (Honey 1999: 50). In this case the concepts of 'eco' and 'community-based' are used to legitimize tourism business (Dzingirai 2003: 259, Rutten 2004).

As the production of promotional material is very expensive, the travel press is often pulled into an alliance by the tourism industry to act as an in-house public relations arm. Travellers use guidebooks, travel magazines, travel supplements in newspapers, television documentaries and nature programs to plan their vacations. The writers, photographers and film-makers producing this information are generally not paid much for their products, and often work free-lance. The expenses for their trips, accommodation, food and entertainment are usually paid or highly subsidized by the tourism businesses involved, often in the form of familiarization trips and complementaries (Honey 1999: 45, Rutten 2002: 19-21).154 Many writers find it difficult to write (very) critically about a place which has hosted them graciously, and in general the nature of the travel genre in media is supposed to be positive and light (Honey 1999: 44-47). As a result the concept of ecotourism is very often used to lightly and success claimed to easily (Rutten 2004: 28, 30).155 But even if projects and businesses truly pursue the ideals of ecotourism, their goals turn out to be difficult to reach (Honey 1999: 83-93). Why is that so?


Different stakeholders, different stakes

Ecotourism is supposed to produce a win-win situation for private businesses, local people, Third World states and the environment, the last being mainly represented by conservation NGOs. These players have complex relationships and different goals and priorities, which often cannot be combined as easily as might seem in first instance. The primary goal of conservation NGOs is conservation, the primary goal of private businesses is to make a profit, while the primary goal of the locals is to secure and extend their livelihoods. The goal of the state is most complex: It is run by an elite, which has an interest in providing for as well as disciplining its citizens, consolidating its power position. I will shortly note some of the most important practical difficulties in pursuing the ecotourism ideals.


The private sector: unequal partnerships

Being focussed on commerce, the private sector's main concern is not conservation, but the recovery of investments and production of profit (Rutten 2004: 28-29). In the world of international tourism it is a very strong player. The four main economic agents in the international tourist industry – airlines, hotels, tour operators and travel agents – have become 'increasingly integrated in terms of their services, financing, management, research and development' (Honey 1999: 35). They often sell their products in the form of holiday packages and in Kenya manage or (partly) own the majority of tourism businesses (Sinclair 1992: 19) which include ecotourism projects.

Generally taking the form of large multinational companies which have their base in developed countries, the profits of tourism businesses in Kenya largely flow back to the overseas countries where they have their base (Bonner 1994: 68-70, Honey 1999, Jong 2007, Sinclair 39-40, Veen 2007: 15). These large players in the tourism industry can make use of the competition for tourism revenue that exist within and between developing countries (Sinclair 1992, Neumann 2001: 322). Their business is supported by receiving governments as well as international aid-institutions, who facilitate for appealing policies and regulations such as infrastructure projects, tax-cuts or subsidies (Honey 1999: 33, Rutten 2004 28-29). In the case of Kenya, the Foreign Investment Act has guaranteed the repatriation of capital and profits, while international airlines have been offered tax exemptions (Honey 1999: 295). In wildlife-based tourism conservation NGOs often provide capital to private partners. Operating in a subsidized setting minimizes risks and can help businesses to get started, but can also hinder the establishment of sustainable businesses and partnerships (Rutten 2004: 29).

These multinational tourism businesses' size, abilities to take business elsewhere, experience and access to information and large amounts of money gives them an extremely powerful position, and Kenya is often mentioned as an example in this case (Sinclair 1998: 20-21). As a result local communities are often misled or get meager deals when they involve themselves in ecotourism partnerships (Rutten 2002, 2004, Sinclair 1992: 39). The Kenyan state, generally supplies inadequate support (for instance through the KWS) (Rutten 2002: 22, 2004) and a too weak legal infrastructure (Sinclair 1992: 35-36) for communities to obtain their rightful share, despite their investment of land, labor and often even money (Rutten 2002, 2004).156 Moreover, the private partner generally manages to keep local people bound to the partnership for a long time, even after it has failed to deliver them the promised benefits, often having secured ownership over important parts of the conservancy and/or facilities on it (own observations, see also Lemaiyan & Mombo 2007, Dzingirai 2003: 250, Rutten 2002, 2004: 31). According to Van Beek in Kenya more than 70% of the income of tourism businesses goes straight to multinationals which are co-owners or act as intermediaries (2003: 253). Overseas investors walking off with the big money is also the rule in the Taita as well as the Maasai areas around Tsavo and the Mara, even if businesses make efforts for and advertise themselves as ecotourism businesses or even community-owned.157


The community: securing livelihoods and internal division

As has become clear, wildlife protection often has a negative influence on local communities' abilities to meet their most pressing daily needs, such as food, water and physical safety. These conservation costs are often improperly assessed by the community itself as well as other agents in community based conservation (Rutten 2002, 2004). Moreover, community projects organized to compensate for the losses are often in the form of public infrastructure such as schools and dispensaries. Although they might be very useful and necessary, generally social infrastructure does not provide subsistence, income or secure livelihoods to most community members (Emerton n.d.: 9), and therefore might not sufficiently meet the most pressing needs of the community, undermining the goals of ecotourism.

In addition, socio-economic benefits as '[s]chools and dispensaries, which [a]re a common feature of community-based wildlife conservation ... are basic amenities that can be located in every part of Kenya according to the country's policy on tackling poverty, illiteracy and health related challenges' (Otuoma 2004: 23, 36, 37). Although many dispensaries, schools, libraries and waterpoints, especially in the Maasai area, are attributed to money from community-based tourism projects, some of the most important general social infrastructure in the wildlife prone areas of Taita and Maasailand is below the Kenyan average (UNDP 2005, OECD 2007), which means that despite these projects people are not compensated for bearing the extra costs of tolerating wildlife on their land, as compared to other citizens that do not need to bear these costs.

A last point that makes ecotourism projects difficult to succeed is the unequal division of revenues that is often accompanied with it (Bruner 2001: 894, 904, Duffy 2002: 48, Greenwood 1989: 171, Lamprey & Reid 2004: 999, Strom 2007), which facilitates for division and corruption (Marks 2001: 130, 136, Rutten 2002, 2004). In the Mara area, tourism benefits to the community are quite common, while they are virtually non-existent in the Taita area (see also Kimwele & Waweru 2006, Njogu 2003). In Taita the division can only be observed on a fairly small scale. A Taita employee at a tourism business for instance told that he was charged much higher in local shops because of his relatively well paying job. In the Mara area, division and corruption are the order of the day: (Eco)tourism businesses such as tourist camps who say to rent land from the community, are actually only paying the landowner(s) to whom the land title belongs, which means that at best only a handful of families is benefiting considerably (see also Strom 2007), and during subdivision of land conflicts arise over the allocation of plots that are attractive for tourism.

(Eco)tourism projects which more truly involve considerable sections of the community, such as community wildlife sanctuaries, regularly develop division and sometimes conflicts over who forms the community that should benefit (Honey 1999: 316).158 In addition, larger community projects often need to form a small board or committee to represents them, in order to be able to negotiate with investors (Thompson n.d.,) or the KWS (Rutten 2004: 14). However, the elite representing the board often uses its position to personally benefit and redistribute benefits as they feel fit (Thompson n.d.: 8-9, Ritsma & Ongaro: 2002, Rutten 2002, 2004). The Koiyaki-Lemek Wildlife Association, which was established in 1995 and the first community-based wildlife association in the Mara, has undergone so many splits because of disagreements that are the result of local rivalry and economics that it is now completely splintered (Thompson n.d.: 4-6), while the more recent Siana Wildlife Association has also split into two rivaling sections (Thompson n.d. 7).

Corruption is also a well known problem within Narok County Council, which is supposed to reinvest the money made by the Masai Mara National Reserve within the district. It includes the pocketing of large sums of tourism money and illegal transactions to get tracts of land for tourism projects (Honey 1999: 311). The 19% of the Mara park fees revenue, which has for long been reserved to be divided among the adjoining groupranches and invested in community projects by the groupranch leaders, has paid for some community projects such as dams in the past, but for many years has not reached the community, only being there on paper.159 No-one knows the amount of money that is generated or where this money goes, as the council does not give insight in it (Honey 1999: 312). This led to some groupranches breaking away from the Narok County Council to form the Transmara County Council (Honey 1999: 312). Approximately a decade later the part of the Mara Reserve in this new district 'was (allegedly illegally) transferred to a private company, Mara Conservancy that was made up of foreigners and the (former) local political elite (Rutten 2004: 7). Lamprey and Reid state that only the Narok county council and a small Maasai elite benefit highly from tourist revenues, while most households in the Mara area benefit little or nothing at all (Rutten 2004: 999-1000).


The environment: consumptive (eco)tourism

Although it is often argued otherwise, tourism is a consumptive use of wildlife resources (Freeman & Kreuter 1994: 7-8, Peace 2007: 192-193), not only when it concerns mass-tourism, but even in the case of much so called ecotourism (Honey 1999, Sinclair 1998: 34-36, Strom 2007). Tourism leads to extra and sometimes excessive demands for scarce resources such as water and firewood (Honey 1999: 312, KWS 1994: 8, 18, Sinclair 1992: 34). The production of rubbish, waste water and air pollution that are the result of a huge increase in driving, flying and the transportation of goods, have negative impacts on often fragile areas (Honey 1999: 298, 312, KWS 1994: 8, 18). As an indication, between the mid 1980s and the early years of the new millennium, tourism in the Mara has increased tenfold (Lamprey & Reid 2004: 999).

In some cases, ecotourists even have a larger impact than mainstream tourists, as they often go to faraway destinations making use of polluting long distance flights and are very intrusive as they want to know the local culture and see unexplored natural areas (Honey 1999, Strom 2007).160 Even though almost all tourist camps around the Mara advertise themselves as 'green' or 'eco' businesses, and the involvement of a National Environment Management Agency (Nema), many dump their waste water without (much) treatment into the Mara and Talek rivers bordering the Reserve,161 and vegetation loss and desertification occur around the tourist camps (KWS 1994: 18). Tourism also leads to considerable migration flows of local people looking for work, resulting in small businesses and shantytowns near the gates of the reserve, which adds to the pressure on the areas concerned.

Tourist camps often form an encroachment of the wildlife corridors.162 Especially around the Mara the impact can be seen well: Along the borders of the Reserve, such as Talek River, camp after camp has been build, until they have formed a continuous line not leaving any space for the wildlife to pass through. Moreover, the location of the camps is often chosen right next to areas that are of vital importance to the wildlife, such as waterholes and gorges. This is because the camps can charge their visitors much more money if they can see the wildlife close up from their luxurious tent or dining area. However, it is inevitable that the building of the camp as well as the continuing close encounters with large numbers of holidaymakers is disturbing to the wildlife. Kobo Safaris not long ago decided to construct a lodge inside Leopard Gorge, a vulnerable place that is vital for the leopards that raise their young. Until now, large scale protests have only led to the consideration to make the camp of a non-permanent nature.163

Besides through the camps, tourism works destructively on a large scale mostly through their game drives. Besides the fact that the extremely large amount of drives every day lead to pollution, the change of vegetation as a result of erosion is a problem (Rutten 2002: 6). Because tourists are very eager to see the wild animals up close and drivers make a considerable portion of their income through tips, illegal off road driving is often more rule than exception (see also Sinclair 1992: 34) leaving labyrinths of tyre tracks that lead to large scale erosion in many parts of the protected areas. I have seen Narok County Council rangers call drivers to order, leading them back to the official tracks. But I have also seen drivers bribe these rangers to be left alone on their off-road position where tourists enjoyed a close encounter with lions.

In the Masai Mara National Reserve, the rules of the maximum amount of five cars around an animal as well as the minimal distance of 10 meters that should be kept164 are constantly broken. Almost no tourists are given adequate information on rules and regulations or the Reserve's list of do's and don’ts (own observations, Honey 1999: 312-313), but everyone who has been there is familiar with the traffic jams of dozens of cars surrounding a lion or a cheetah, the drivers whistling, clapping on the side of the car and roaring their engines to make the animal look up (pictures 4.1, 4.2). Regularly tourist vans almost drive over a cheetah and her cubs or a group of lions, only to make them stand up so their clients can get a good picture. Lions are followed for hours by groups of buses, car after car passing them to block their way. It is no wonder that the migration of wildebeest is disturbed by the large amounts of tourists trying to get the best shot of a river crossing. In addition, cheetahs in the Mara are being threatened. Being the only cats that hunt during the day, they do not get the chance to obtain enough food because of all the attention from the vehicles. Cheetah cubs have died of starvation because tourists make it impossible for the mother to hunt enough to feed them (Honey 1999: 54).165

The many eco-lodges sometimes do economize energy and waste impacts, but generally drive tourists around the area several hours a day in the same polluting old cars (see also Strom 2007) as other facilities, do the same amount of off-road driving and get their food supplies transported from Nairobi. A number of scholars question whether ecotourism is a way of travelling that really causes less environmental damage compared to conventional tourism, and find that the impacts are sometimes as negative (Duffy 2002, Honey 1999, Sinclair 1998: 34-36). Tourism as well as ecotourism is often destructive, using the natural resources it targets in a consumptive way.
The national costs of wildlife protection

By the early 1990s, Kenya was earning more from wildlife tourism than any other African country (Honey 1999: 294). In 2007, the total tourism income from the county's estimated two million visitors amounted for circa Ksh 65.4 billion and recording the highest growth in the economy before the recent election violence, tourism was seen as the 'leading economic sector in Kenya' (Kenya Ministry of Tourism 2008). In addition the industry is a 'major source of Government revenue in the form of taxes, duties, licence fees, entry fees, etc.' (Kenya Ministry of Tourism 2008). In 2006 it accounted for 12% of Kenya's GDP and one million jobs, 9% of total wage employment (ibid.). That year there were 2.4 million visits to parks and game reserves (Kenya National Bureau of Statistics 2007). However, despite the demonstrably high national economic value of wildlife in Kenya (Emerton n.d.: 4, Norton-Griffiths & Southey 1995), maintaining the resource has mainly been a burden for the Kenyan government.166

The infrastructure that is needed to facilitate for tourism is often of high costs and specific for the tourism sector (Sinclair 1998: 40). Even more extensive however are the opportunity costs associated with setting aside land for conservation. Norton-Griffiths and Southey calculated that the nearly 61.000 km² of protected areas in Kenya, if accounted for soil quality and rainfall, could potentially support 4.2 million people, 5.8 million heads of livestock and 0.8 million ha of cultivated areas. For 1989 potential net returns for these land uses would be almost four times as high as the actual combined net returns from wildlife and tourism the protected areas generate. The amount to which the Kenyan government is subsidizing the conservation of the protected areas was 2.8% of the GDP (Norton-Griffiths & Southey 1995: 129) and '70% of all external (aid) grants to Kenya in 1989/90' (Norton-Griffiths & Southey 1995: 136).

Since these calculations have been made, conservation continues to be costly for the Kenyan state. Tourist numbers have grown enormously, but this has in large part been the result of an increase in beach tourism (Sinclair 1998: 30), which is even less profitable for the Kenyan state (Honey 1999: 297). Moreover, the pressure on the land has expanded greatly with the continued growth of the rural population, and with it the opportunity costs for leaving parts of it undeveloped. In addition, tourism can be 'perceived as a high risk option for developing countries as the earnings which it provides may be unstable over time' (Sinclair 1998: 32), for instance as a result of highly fluctuating visitor numbers or exchange rates (Honey 1999, Kareithi 2003, Sinclair 1998). For Kenya this has been proven between 1978 and 1983 when tourism stagnated due to national and international problems (Honey 1999: 295), in 1997-1998 when the numbers of visitors plunged as a result of election unrest, high crime rates and the Nairobi terrorist bomb (Honey 1999: 297) and again recently by the influence the 2007/2008 post-election violence.167

In addition, more consumptive use of wildlife, such as the harvesting of ivory, which might make its keeping more profitable, is still prohibited in Kenya. According to the literature, if wildlife is solely used as a tourist attraction the money it brings in is by large not enough to compensate the national and local level for the associated costs and loss of resources they experience (Bonner 1994: 68, Sinclair 1998: 38-40, Western 1998: 1509). Norton-Griffiths & Southey's conclusion that '[t]he net revenues from wildlife tourism and forestry are unlikely to meet the opportunity costs of the land set aside in parks, reserves and forests for decades to come – if ever' (1995: 136), still stands strong.168




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