1995 Review Group Report

The Five-Person Review Group

In July 1994, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Board of Trustees commissioned the Five-Person Review group to look into and make and independent report on prevailing views of the wildlife-human conflict among local landowners and communities. The Review Group included representatives of a cross-section of communities with a stake in wildlife, among them individual and group ranchers, the tourism industry, conservation NGOs, women and environmentalists. In addition, the Review Group had the support of a rapporteur and resource personnel from KWS.

People’s Priorities in Unprotected Areas

Landowners have authority over and responsibility for the use of private lands. For most, the highest priority is to get sustainable monetary benefits from their land during their lifetime. For terrestrial land, three main forms of land-use are preferred: livestock production or pastoralism, agriculture and urban housing. At the coast, traditional fishing has priority.

The ability to preserve wild animals outside national parks and reserves is a function of traditional community values, perceptions and attitudes toward wildlife, as well as prevailing land-use- priorities. Indigenous communities hold wildlife in respect without harming it, except when a certain animal is hunted and killed for ceremonial articles or becomes notorious as a man-eater or stock killer.

With the country’s rapid human population growth, land ownership, traditional community values, perceptions, land-uses and attitudes are changing. These changes tend to intensify human conflict with and intolerance of wildlife.

Definition of Wildlife-Human Conflict

In this report, wildlife-human conflict is considered to be any and all disagreements or contentions relating to destruction, loss of life or property, and interference with rights of individuals or groups that are attribute directly or indirectly to wild animals. Wildlife-human conflicts in Kenya may be divided into two broad categories: 1) true problems between wildlife and people and 2) clashes of interest between people over wildlife, or interpersonal conflicts.

True wildlife human conflicts include effects of a personal nature such as injuries and death, as well as economic and psychological losses people suffer when wild animals destroy human life and property. Differences and losses traceable to policy and management (e.g. delays in compensation claims processing) also fall under this category. Factors such as ignorance and the attitudes of officials or claimants can play a significant role in determining the magnitude and seriousness of a problem.

Interpersonal conflicts include disputes related to competition and group interests centred on resources and the power to control wildlife benefits. They also may stem from dislike of new policies that will affect the balance of power or benefit certain groups.

Assuming that its staff competent, KWS can handle wildlife-human conflicts through conventional planning and decision making procedures. On the other hand, KWS can not resolve interpersonal conflicts without closely collaborating with government, landowners, communities, NGOs and the hotel and tourism industry. Conflicts in both categories are relevant to this report and require attention from KWS.

The Problem

Wildlife-human conflict has escalated in recent years because of changes in land-use, especially expansion and intensification of arable farming and standardization of pastrolists in rangeland; inadequate wildlife control; they ban on hunting and capture of wildlife; and the natural increase of animal numbers. These changes have contributed immensely to the hardships of landowners, who tend to invest and lose more as they try to cope with the wildlife challenge in their land-use enterprises.

KWS’s commitment to addressing the problems landowners face led to implementation of the CWS project, which seeks to explore ways of making wildlife a profitable and viable economic option for landowners. This pilot wildlife utilization scheme , which grants landowners use rights and cropping quotas, exceed the legal limits of the Director’s Special Authorisation To Hunt (Cap 376, Section 26), the country’s only statutory provision for hunting, which applies to “special circumstances”.

Some groups have suggested that KWS should confine its direct, hands-on management of wildlife to the protected areas since doing so outside the protected areas is an unrealistic if not impossible goal. Outside the protected areas, KWS could manage wildlife by delegating authority and use rights to competent landowners as partners. Given the direct benefits, accruing from wildlife utilization and the opportunity to operate ecotourism enterprises, landowners would be more than willing to conserve wildlife on their land, while KWS would provide extension services, acting in advisory and supervisory capacities only.

Clearly, KWS can not proceed to extend consumptive utilization beyond the pilot phase unless existing wildlife laws and policies are lifted or changed.

Terms of Reference

The terms of reference for the Review Group’s assignment were to consult with and listen to interested parties and solicit their solutions to the wildlife-human conflict for a period of three weeks. Discussions were to cover:

  • wildlife control
  • compensation
  • economic utilization and

modes of consultation between landowners, KWS, the tourism industry and other parties. The review was to be conducted in an open fashion to ensure that issues were freely raised and discussed in the press. Finally, the Review Group was to produce a report on its findings for the director of KWS.


The five-person Review Group developed a model procedure for conducting field visits and public hearings to encourage open and participatory analysis of issues. The chairman of the Review Group presided over all public meetings, introducing the group members and their terms of reference at all meetings in a public forum, or baraza. His introductions included clear announcements that no one should be restrained from free expression of views. The Review Group endeavoured to encourage diversity and debate and prevent domination of the proceedings by forceful individuals or groups or the illusion of consensus without adequate criticism. Individual members were responsible for evoking and monitoring response to specific issues such as tourism industry including opportunities for investment and marketing of goods and services; education, training and institutional development of group ranches, self-help groups and local associations; and gender and environmental issues. KWS headquarters and field staff attended all meetings but were not allowed to give opinions or answer questions. The rapporteur took minutes of proceedings and drafted this report.

The Review Group’s cross-country itinerary, preselected by KWS as part of its items of reference, is given in Appendix III. A wide cross-section of interested parties, including landowners, group ranchers, ranching companies, county councils, urban councils, wildlife forums, local wildlife associations, entire village communities, women’s groups, school teachers, curio dealers, tour boat operators, fishermen and NGO’s, was invited to each hearing. Group representatives made their presentations first, and then the chairman opened the floor for individuals or groups to speak. The Review Group solicited written memoranda from group representatives, and many were delivered on the spot.

After each day’s public hearings, Review Group members met to compare observations and appraise each local situation, identifying causes of problems and possible solutions based on the contextual evidence and the group members’ varied knowledge and experience. Some problems called for further consultations in the fields of law, policy, research, data monitoring, etc. Upon completion of the field visits , the Review Group held special meetings in Nairobi with governmental, private and nongovernmental organizations including government ministries, farmers’ organizations, tourism bodies, local government authorities, environmental-conservation groups and others.

Scope of the Report

This report – although limited in scope by the short time granted for investigation – sets out the Review Group’s findings and recommendations. It should be noted that the Review Group observed – and notified the KWS director – at an early age in its investigations that the prearranged itinerary was biased toward communities that already had been sensitized to wildlife-related benefits. The itinerary was therefore enlarged to offset this bias, with the approval of the director.

Problems have been described so as to show their extent and the sources and causes that require remedial measures. Policy issues at stake have been identified and discussed, and specific recommendations made for immediate action to be taken with available resources.

The Review Group’s conclusion is that wildlife-human conflicts are not just a litany of specific problems but a whole unacknowledged perspective in reality. Their solution requires a concept of sustainable wildlife management by and for people on their land, not in spite of them. This approach differs from protectionism, which tends to institutionalize conservation values that take no account of local attitudes or problems.

We hope this report will help KWS develop and implement a new concept of sustainable, participatory wildlife conservation in Kenya.