Human Wildlife Conflicts

Sources, Solutions and Issues

  • Sources of Wildlife-Human Conflict
  • Problems Related to Policy and Law
  • Problems Related to KWS Operational Strategies
  • Problems Related to Soci-economic Dynamics
  • Problems Related to Ecological Dynamics
  • Summery of Views and Notes
  • Issues at Stake

Sources of Wildlife-Human Conflict

The Review Group assigned the initial list of specific problems generated by respondents in the field to four key domains:

  • policy and law
  • KWS operational strategies,
  • socio-economics and ecology

The statements following outline specific problems within these general classifications:

Causes of Wildlife-Human Conflict:

  1. Loss and damage of agricultural crops
  2. Damage of forest plantation trees and seedlings
  3. Human beings or injured wild animals
  4. Loss of livestock killed by wild animals
  5. Competition with livestock for pasture: overgrazing
  6. Competition with livestock for water
  7. Destruction of infrastructure (fences, pipes, works)
  8. Competition for space (protected areas with communities
  9. Hosting and transmission of major livestock diseases
  10. Lack of wildlife utility
  11. Invasion of urban areas: loss of freedom and security
  12. Behaviour of KWS Rangers: shootings and whippings
  13. Misconceptions of KWS as a donor agency, overexpectations
  14. Ineffective techniques for controlling problem animals
  15. No compensation for destruction of property by animals
  16. Low compensation for people killed by wild animals
  17. Inefficiency and abuse of compensation procedures
  18. Competition and lack of involvement in tourism business
  19. Uncontrolled animal movements and migrations
  20. Conflicts of interest over benefits accruing from wildlife
  21. Licensing problems among operators of wildlife-related tourism activities
  22. Security/safety of tourists in protected wildlife areas
  23. Policy weaknesses causing uncertainty in potential investors
  24. Land-use conflicts and inadequacy of policy for resolution
  25. Illegal hunting and trade in wildlife products
  26. Denial of a share of revenue and other benefits to stakeholders
  27. Poverty
  28. Negative social impacts of tourism
  29. Negative environmental impacts of tourism

Problems Related to Policy and Law

Some existing wildlife policies are outdated in relation to KWS objectives. Some are vague and require clarification; others are contradictory and require harmonization or coordination. Important areas of wildlife policy that require immediate attention are land use (including hunting, game farming, trade stakeholders, participation, rights and responsibilities), compensation, land tenure and tourism development.

Liberalization of Wildlife Utilization and Management Outside Protected Areas

The pilot-utilization scheme spearheaded by CWS is technically illegal. This is because bans on hunting on hunting (Legal Notice No. 120 of 20 May 1977) and trade in wildlife and wildlife products (Parliamentary Act No. 5 of 1978; Legal Notice No. 181 of 21 August 1979; Presidential Directive prohibiting all hunting and capture in 1984) are in force. This policy contradiction inhibits serious investment in wildlife-utilization initiatives among CWS participants, who understandably have adopted a wait-and-see attitude in the face of inconsistency.

Proceeding with consumptive utilization on a commercial scale for the benefit of landowners is impossible under the present legislation. This problem must be solved if KWS is to implement conservation through wildlife-utilization.

Some of the fundamental questions to be answered in recognizing wildlife-utilization legislation are, Who pays for keeping wildlife outside protected areas? and Who benefits? The Review Group’s experience in the field suggests that issues concerning stakeholders also need to be clarified: Who are they? What are their roles or responsibilities at different levels and in different spheres of decision making (e.g., project identification, utilization)? What are their rights? How can KWS and the government recognize legitimate groups with the capacity for conservation? How can it avoid abuses inherent in granting such recognition?

Stakeholders have varied views on which types of utilization and benefits are preferable, and these too require harmonization. Small-scale farmers care most for indirect benefits in the form of infrastructure and services, while a few suggest farming of game birds. Group ranchers seem comfortable with cropping for marketable wildlife products such as skins and meat, but many express hope that sport hunting will be reviewed because they believe it yields maximum income for landowners. Hoteliers and tour operators, on the other hand, have strong reservations about resumption of sport hunting in Kenya. They feel sport hunting will tarnish the country’s image globally and adversely affect the tourism business.

Suggestion from a Community Representative (Bura, Taita Diatrict) :

“Let animals on private and communal lands be granted to be property of the local people so that people can plan how best to maintain and use them. Furthermore, if elephants and lions could be kept in the national parks then people would be happy to have and own all other animals on their lands.”

Stakeholders in Wildlife Management

  • Local wildlife associations
  • Individual landowners
  • Group landowners
  • Trustees of communally owned land
  • District wildlife forums (individual ranchers)
  • Government of Kenya Wildlife Service
  • Forestry Department
  • Geology and Mines Department
  • District Development committees and subdistrict development committees
  • Local authorities (county councils)
  • National Reserves and national parks
  • Hoteliers and tour operators
  • Beach operators
  • Women’s groups
  • Community enterprises
  • Game farmers
  • Local NGOs
  • International NGOs
  • International community

Compensation and Revenue Sharing

Compensation is a particularly confused and contentious issue. Neither KWS nor the people have clear ideas about who the stakeholders are or what might constitute equitable distribution of wildlife benefits. The issue of stakeholders is, in fact a crucial missing element in the policy framework. Most people are unaware that the treasury – not KWS – disburses compensation payments for deaths and injuries caused by wildlife and the government no longer offers any compensation for crop damage. KWS’s widely publicized policy of sharing 25 percent of all national park revenues with local people has not been implemented; indeed, implementation may be unwise if not impossible in the context of KWS’s goal of financial self-sufficiency and without clear guidelines.

Nevertheless, in the field, representatives of county and town councils said that the shares of the 25 percent were outstanding and demanded immediate payment of arrears. In one public meeting, a prominent locally presented revenue data for all national park gates in the district and wanted to know why payment was being withheld.

The Review Group received many views on how benefits, including the 25 percent revenue share, should be distributed. People variously say that benefits from wildlife should be returned to the communities that generated them; that benefits should be remitted directly to the group ranches, not through the country council or any other agency; that benefits should be paid to the county council or through the district development committee; and that the flat 25 percent revenue share rate is wrong because different national parks attract unequal amounts of revenue.

All people who commented on the issue of compensation agree that the current payment for loss of human life, Ksh 30,000, is unfair and abuses human dignity since this amount is not sufficient to pay funeral expenses, let alone hospital bills or school costs for surviving children. Others emphasize the dehumanizing aspects of the wildlife-compensation process. Payment procedures are inefficient and extremely slow, they say. More than five years may elapse before affected families actually have their compensation cash in hand – if they are ever compensated at all. During the waiting period, dependent children of schoolgoing are frequently dropped out of school, often permanently, because they lack funds to pay fees. Respondents also strongly advocate compensation for crops and livestock destroyed by wild animals.

To solve these problems, respondents propose rates of compensation for human life ranging from 49 head of cattle or Ksh 500,000 to Ksh 10 million, with Ksh 1 million a frequently suggested figure. The compensation suggested for injuries range from Ksh 150,000 to 300,000, plus payment of hospital bills. Some people suggest that contemporary schemes of calculating compensation for loss of life used by insurance companies and the courts be applied to cases of wildlife-related deaths, injuries and damage. Factors to be loaded into the compensation formula should include the deceased’s role in the family, age, number of dependants and their school fees, hospital costs, burial costs and inflation.

For damage and destruction of crops and livestock, people suggest the following rates: for crop acreage, Ksh 90,000 per acre or compensation based on market prices and potential yield data; for cattle, Ksh 10,000 to 30,000 ; and for sheep and goats, Ksh 5,000. In cases of damage infrastructure, some respondents suggest, KWS should be required to repair or replace destroyed installations. For loss of grazing, others want a compensation formula that takes into account land carrying capacity, with a monthly rate based on each landowners’ livestock-wildlife ratio.

A few people suggest that the government of Kenya should draft compensation guidelines and procedures and the give KWS responsibility for payment. All call for a transparent payment process that clearly reveals amounts claimed and amounts paid. According to many respondents, compensation should be processed and paid at district level using cash from park-gate collections. Processing and payment of claims never should exceed six months, many people say. Communities in various districts, including Kithoka in Meru and Kalonzoni in Machakos feel that destroyed livestock and crops should be paid for immediately.

A Suggestion from Voi about Wildlife Benefits

“Benefits from wildlife should be ploughed back into the land they came from; 60 per cent of the 25 per cent revenue share should be given to the community and 40 per cent to the farmer.”

Land Tenure and Land Use

Many areas with abundant wildlife such as Samburu, Trans-Mara, Kajiado, Taita, Kwale are undergoing major land-tenure and land-use transformation. State and trust lands are being adjudicated as group and individual ranches or small farms; at the same time, ranches are being subdivided, sold and developed into smaller holdings. Settlers have mortgaged their land for development loans to grow crops such as wheat and maize or commercial horticultural crops under irrigation. These changes and developments increase sensitivity and intensify conflict between wildlife and people.

Loss of land and displacement of settled communities from their traditional sources of livelihood as a result of the creation of national parks continues to be a problem. Coastal communities’ loss of traditional fishing grounds and beaches with the creation of marine parks is a good example.

Many respondents say that current land-use policy makes sustainable land use and conservation extremely difficult. Since KWS has adopted land-use planning as its main conservation strategy, these policies need attention before meaningful work can proceed.

Tourism Development

The policy gap in regard to tourism development in national parks, reserves and areas covered by Memoranda of Understanding between KWS and other agencies should be filled as soon as possible, taking into consideration all requirements for location criteria, valuation, environmental assessment, lease conditions, etc. The primacy of tourism for foreign exchange and government of Kenya revenue is well recognized, but the current tendency to regard tourism as the prime reason to protect wildlife, which stems from lack of appropriate policy instruments, compounds the country’s pollution and desertification problems in wildlife areas.

Unplanned concentration of tourism facilities such as lodges, beach hotels, and tented camps in and around national parks and reserves – made easy by the lack of appropriate policy instruments- is having many negative social and environmental effects. In the classic situation in Mombasa, hotels have obliterated public access to the beaches, which are public land, effectively reserving them for paying guests. In Amboseli and Maasai Mara, the concentration of lodges and tented camps has produced a critical increase in off-road driving, fuelwood collection, desertification and congregation of hazardous scavengers, especially birds, and created problems of waste disposal, water pollution and loss of aesthetic quality in the local landscape.

Problems Related to KWS Operational Strategies

Law enforcement

The Review Group received fiery complaints from local leaders about KWS rangers who had shot or whipped suspected poachers who were not resisting arrest or attempting to escape . Such behaviour not only strains KWS’s relationships with local communities but is contrary to specific provisions of the wildlife (Conservation and Management) (Amendment) Act (1989).

Community Mobilization

CWS’s community mobilization, awareness and training activities have been successful in focal areas such as Laikipia, Nyeri/Aberdares Forest , Kajiado, Samburu and Mombasa but less successful or lacking altogether in Narok, Taita and Kwale. The CWS approach appears to be conceptually sound, but its impact and cost-effectiveness have yet to be properly monitored and evaluated. From a practical perspective, however, horizontal coordination of CWS activities with those of law-enforcement sections of KWS and local stakeholder and nontarget organizations is rather weak, allowing contradiction and conflict to emerge.

COBRA Community Enterprise Projects

The Review Group found that people’s perception and expectations of KWS as a donor originate mainly from COBRA and revenue-sharing activities, which have been accompanied by substantial handouts to groups with projects.

Problem-animal Control Operations

The bulk of information received from the filed indicates that KWS does not have sufficient personnel and equipment for control work and that KWS is indifferent to the high rate of crop damage by animals. There is considerable evidence that problem-animal control has failed or been abandoned.

District-level government administrators and landowners most frequently complain that KWS lacks adequate personnel and equipment to control problem animals. Several districts have only twenty-six rangers and one (usually old) Land Rover or Toyota that is frequently immobilized because of lack of funds to buy fuel or mechanical breakdown. Rangers’ outposts are sparsely distributed, and, without cars, personnel can cover a radius of 5 km. In some hard-hit agriculture areas (e.g. Kithoka, Kilgoris), rangers evidently struggle helplessly to control the community’s wild animals by walking long distances during the day and staying out at night. (The Kithoka community’s memorandum includes a request that KWS equip rangers with proper dress for cold nights). But local farmers say, KWS rangers do not have ammunition and cannot help. Other people told the Review Group that KWS had instructed rangers stationed in problem areas not to shoot animals found destroying property.

KWS has adopted electric fencing to separate animals from human settlements in high-potential agricultural areas. In pilot fence areas such as Gakanga in Endarasha Location, Nyeri District and Ol Moran Location, Laikipia District, communities are extremely pleased with the effectiveness of this control method. Fences have raised KWS’s credibility in the Gakanga, Ol Moran and Taita Communities. Local people near Tsavo East National Park, however, challenge KWS’s work and want their fence moved 20 km to create a buffer zone.

Elephants present a special case as problem animals. Local people regard elephants as ubiquitous pests that must be controlled; at the same time, elephants, as endangered animals, are scheduled for strict protection, including a ban on the ivory trade, under an international convention. Elephant-proof fences have been installed in Laikipia, Nyeri, Narok and Taita, and various other communities demand the same protection.

With fencing, whether for elephants or other animals, KWS has yet to determine its cost-effectiveness as a strategy for reducing property destruction or its impact on wildlife and the environment.

Communities criticize the practice of driving wild animals with helicopters as ineffective, costly and hazardous to members of the public who live in areas where such operations take place.

A community the Review Group met at Kithoka in Meru presented a proposal to build a game-control post on a harambee basis and nominated trustworthy local people who could appoint as honorary wardens to assist in control work.


Individual landowners, particularly those participating in the CWS pilot project, often conduct animal censuses, sometimes as a prerequisite to allocation of a cropping quota. The Machakos Wildlife Forum, for example, has carried out game censuses for four consecutive years and presented its data to the Review Group in a computerized table. With proper data control, these private censuses can provide KWS with important animal population data supplement its own database, which needs improvement.

Wildlife-use Rights under CWS

In areas that are part of the CWS pilot project, landowners’ interest in wildlife cropping is strong, and many are keen to respect any responsibilities delegated to them by KWS so as to maintain their use rights. In Machakos, Laikipia and Samburu, controlled wildlife utilization has taken place under the auspices of wildlife utilization forums, ranchers’ associations formed at district level under CWS for the purpose of coordinating wildlife utilization. Community wildlife-related enterprises begun under CWS include campsites, cultural manyattas, camel safaris, cultural centres, abattoirs, kitchens, preparation of thatch (magutu) for sale, curio shops and blacksmiths. Ranchers in Machakos presented ambitious schemes to the Review Group, but said they were shelving them because of their doubts about the legality of the CWS utilization scheme.

Citing examples, respondents told the Review Group that in 1991, KWS introduced a scheme called “wildlife use rights.” Under the scheme, people (ranches and certain “hunting” companies) were allowed to crop animals on their land, as well as in problem areas, for consumptive use under the Director’s Special Permission to Hunt, which applies in certain circumstances . Such use includes sale of skins, meat and live animals. More than thirty-eight ranches have been granted quotas to crop wildlife, contingent upon their production of a management plan and an acceptable game count. Other individuals and groups have started game farms for eland, ostrich, guinea fowl and other species. More than twenty-six game farms, for instance, have been authorized to catch and keep ostriches. Game-farming guidelines were said to be in preparation and would be sent to farmers.

Members of the public made the following remarks concerning the wildlife utilization scheme:

CWS discriminates in the allocation of use rights for cropping quotas, with European ranchers in Laikipia being favoured: “Issue of use rights should be free of discrimination.

  • The ban on hunting should be lifted.
  • The current bird-hunting fee should be increased for both residents and nonresidents.
  • Prohibitions against hunting and dealing in game skins should be relaxed, for only then can farmers get the full benefits of keeping wildlife on their land.
  • Landowners should be allowed to select the most appropriate form of wildlife utilization.
  • Local marketing of wildlife meat has met with difficulties because of veterinary regulations but such obstacles are being solved gradually.
  • Consultant hunters engaged to crop game and sell products on behalf of landowner groups are giving their clients raw deal. Landowners should be guaranteed 100 percent retention of benefits.
  • Ownership benefits and liabilities in regard to control of and compensation for wild animals require specification.
  • Ostrich farming should be limited exclusively to landowners in areas where ostriches occur naturally
  • Domestication lacks legal meaning and merit for conservation.
  • A marketing organization should be formed under the auspices of KWS.
  • KWS should encourage youth in snake farming, which can be a great income earner.

Public Image

Different groups have extremely different views of KWS, depending on their past exposure, interactions and benefits derived from association with the parastatal. Grassroots communities: In general, communities with little exposure to KWS believe that the parastatal cares more for animals than for human beings. Communities that have interacted only through KWS patrolling rangers who shot and whipped people detest the organization as an unreasonable, brutal military force.

Members of Mount Kenya and Aberdares communities voiced bitter complaints to the Review Group and, later in the local press about the conduct of KWS rangers patrolling forest areas covered by the Memorandum of Understanding with the Forestry Department.

In Mombasa, local communities of fishermen are bitter about gazetting of the marine national park. For them, KWS is an agency that has deprived them of their heritage of free passage from traditional fishing grounds to landing beaches, which are now dominated by tourist activities. In the marine reserve, fishing is subject to net-mash-size regulations, and this makes KWS unpopular. The fishermen demand daily free passage across the marine park for their fishing trips and a reduction in the marine park’s size.

Communities who have experienced wildlife-related benefits through CWS activities usually praise KWS. Many community representatives, local government officials and government leaders acknowledge KWS’s assistance with local projects or donations of famine relief food supplies.

A few CWS communities (notably Ol Moran, Gakanga and Maralal) complain of unfulfilled promises and expectations. In one case, seeds promised for development of an elephant-proof cactus hedge had not been delivered. In another, a senior officer had promised to increase staff in a certain area but did not do so. Several groups complain that they had not received famine-relief food supplies from KWS, despite having lost crops to elephants.

At Kilgoris, an old man asked why KWS rangers lacked transport, while the Review Group and bosses from Nairobi arrived in deluxe cars. At Losuk, people told the Review Group that KWS has a lot of money but that people “do not know who is benefiting” from it. One community alleged that KWS was secretly arranging with rich people to develop tourist lodges on communal land. In Taita, a group alleged that KWS denies local people mining rights in Tsavo National Park but grants them to outsiders.


Most individual ranchers have positive view and wish to cooperate with KWS to develop viable wildlife utilization programmes. However, they are understandably cautious about investing capital in wildlife utilization until the policy conflict has been resolved. Some ranchers have been very cooperative with CWS, especially in helping groups of small-scale farmers interested in game farming to form local wildlife associations.

Group ranchers who have received revenue-sharing benefits or game cropping rights view KWS favourably – and expect a lot from participation in further wildlife-utilization and community wildlife projects. They are intent on continuing dialogue with KWS for further benefits.

Local Government Authorities

Local authorities expressed their distrust of KWS’s rights and responsibilities for managing and collecting revenue in national reserves, gazetting of reserves as national parks. A certain county council complained to the Review Group that KWS is using the name of the council’s reserve to solicit donor funds. Several county councils declared their intention to have national parks in their districts downgraded to national reserves.

Various unfulfilled promises also were at issue. Many local government authorities complain that KWS and the companies operating lodges in local national parks do not employ the young people of their areas.

District-Level Government Officials

Since KWS appears to have suddenly become better endowned and capable of mobilizing projects more effectively than other department at district level, the organization has gained clout as well as attracted envy.

Government Ministries

Environmentally oriented ministries have respect for KWS and are interested in cooperating on technical issues of wildlife conservation and management, particularly where there is special interests overlap. KWS has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with a Forestry Department to manage certain forest areas jointly for twenty-five years, a landmark example of the kind of cooperation that is possible. Some respondents, however, express serious concern about KWS staff’s attitude towards government of Kenya ministries.


International NGOs show great interest in technical issues and the need to cooperate with KWS. In subtle way, KWS appears to have become potential threat to foreign NGOs conservation role in Kenya – as well as a potential source of funds for research and consultancies.

Tourism Industry

Hoteliers and tour operators’ groups give priority to issues of security and public relations and see KWS as a trustworthy partner. They would like KWS to be stronger and fitter as the security agency for tourism. They feel KWS’s public relations functions needs strengthening and that the parastatal has failed to respond adequately in the local and international press to adverse publicity about security for tourists.

Conflicts Related to Tourism

Controversy between KWS and local government authorities, especially county councils, is common in a number of districts. Typically, the county council wants to retain management responsibility for (and revenues from) a national reserve or park in its district rather than allow KWS to take charge on behalf of the government of Kenya. Some county councils have proposed that their local national parks should revert to national reserve status. Where such conflicts exist, the Review Group observed, they tend to be of long standing and require political solutions.

The Review Group also encountered conflicts due to competition between stakeholders for tourism business opportunities. In an example from Mombasa, hotel owners and tour operators are locked in battle with a group of beach operators who want access to tourism opportunities. In another location, the Kenya National Farmers Union commented that landowners bear the costs of maintaining wildlife, making them the country’s real conservators, but the government and investors in the tourism industry retain most of the financial benefits.

Even where local groups have been encouraged to tap the tourism market, conflict has arisen. CWS, for example, has helped develop commercial “cultural manyattas” in the vicinity of Amboseli National Park in Kajiado District. Tourists pay a fee and tips for services rendered for the privilege of visiting a real Maasai household. Communities criticize this concept for various reasons.

First, critics say, tourism has negative social impacts on indigenous communities; the Maasai have resisted change to a remarkable degree, but they are not likely to be an exception. Some people see cultural manyattas as the quickest way to adulterate and kill Maasai culture. Second and now organised, cultural manyattas present an opportunity for tour guides, acting as middlemen between Maasai communities and tourist groups, to exploit the Maasai by taking away the highest share of tourist income. Finally, others suggest that development of local cultural museums, which would exhibit model manyattas, would be preferable to the current system. A few comment that the present manyattas, as full-time residences of real families, are not sufficiently hygienic for public exhibition.

Conservation Doctrine

Stakeholders including NGOs, hoteliers and tour operators, farmers, fishermen and beach operators have different views on existing conservation policies and strategies. Generally, all agree that conservation of biodiversity must be based on sustainability, but that each and every animal need to be protected without regard for human life.

Institutional linkages

Many people see institutional issues in terms of their participation or representation in authoritative bodies such as the KWS board. Many people told the Review Group, “Our district must be represented on the KWS Board of Trustees.”

At the grass-roots level, CWS has mobilized communities to organize formal conservation-oriented groups. These have attracted a great deal of attention and interest from pastoral and agricultural communities. The review group met with many of these new groups including the Mombasa Boat operators Association (1200 members) and the Mombasa Curio Traders group (600 members).

CWS also attracted the interest of many preexisting women’s self-help groups and vocational groups representing tour guides and porters, fishermen, boatmen, curio dealers, beach boys, street or plastic boys and others. Local wildlife associations and forums are becoming familiar, especially in the CWS focal districts of Laikipia, Samburu, Kajiado and Mombasa.

These groups already have assumed such important responsibilities as coordinating wildlife utilization (which involves drawing up land management plans and conducting game census), organizing income-generating enterprises (e.g. cultural manyattas) and maintaining dialogue with wildlife authorities. The groups play a significant role in increasing community awareness, particularly of the rights and responsibilities of landowners , women, and local people in respect to the benefits and costs of wildlife. Most of these organizations are new, and the initial flush of enthusiasm may be deceptive. Certainly, they require support and guidance – including financial assistance, training, exposure and participation in decision making – if they are to become tools of local economic development and conservation. Some groups already have benefited from financial assistance CWS has give them to rehabilitate their business, as well as from educational tours to areas with exemplary wildlife projects. To avoid conflicts of interest, further linkages and coordination with existing organizations with similar target groups (e.g. wildlife clubs, Kenya National Farmers Union (KNFU), Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK), Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO), etc.) will be necessary. International and foreign NGOs can provide a lot of moral and material support to achieve local associations’ objectives.

Problems Related to Socio-economic Dynamics

Increase in Human Population and Demand for Resources

Kenya’s resources base in fast shrinking due to the rapid increase in its human population. Many trust lands have been subdivided into group and individual ranches, and some older ranches have been broken up into individual holdings. The result has been land fragmentation due to the transition from seminomadism to sedentary semiagricultural settlements and the development of intensive small-scale farming. In many areas, wildlife offers people no realistic economic options since meaningful quantities of wildlife have ceased to exist. More often, the incursions of wild animals, from mice to elephants, threaten human inhabitants with economic ruin. This is now commonly the case in Laikipia, Samburu, Narok, Kajiado, Taita, Machakos and other districts.

Gazetting of National Parks

In the past, gazetting of terrestrial and marine national parks has negatively affected local communities’ livelihoods and therefore their attitudes toward conservation authorities. Traditional communities continue to argue that they were not compensated for their loss of income when activities incompatible with wildlife protection were stopped. Some feel they should have been given special concessions for entry into and continued operations in national parks. For these reasons, many communities want neighbouring national parks gazetted.

The traditional fishing communities at Mombasa present an example. They continue to be bitter over the loss of their freedom and fishing rights that resulted from creation of the 210 km2 Mombasa marine National Park. With the accompanying growth in beach tourism, hotels have blocked public access to appropriate local fishermen’s traditional landing beaches, with the result that fishermen have been marginalized.

Some fishermen have adapted to change by becoming tourist boat operators. They are very bitter about the Kshs 6,000 they must pay to KWS for a seasonal park pass, in addition to the Kshs 15,000 require for an assortment of license and insurance for their business. The boatmen also collect marine-park entry fees from their clients on behalf of KWS, a service for which they receive no commission KWS allows pedal boats, top-cot vessels and swimmers to enter the marine park free of charge, and the boat operators also believe foreign hoteliers and boat operators are convincing to cheat them of business. Both tourist boat operators and local fishermen told the Review Group to demand degazzetted and their Nyeri County Council feels the same way about the Aberdares and Mount Kenya National parks.

Losses Attributed to Wildlife

Human deaths caused by wild animals are the most sensitive cause of wildlife-human conflict. Between 1989 and June 1994, wild animals killed 230 people and injured 218. Low rates of compensat ion for loss of human life and extreme difficulty of extracting such compensation from the government exacerbate the problem. Many respondents say that KWS and the Government of Kenya value animals more than humans.

Statistics on elephants and compensation from Taita District, which the review group received at Voi, illustrate the gravity of the problem. Avoidance and a warped set of conservation values that does not take into account the value of people’s lives clearly still contribute to this type of conflict.

Crop Damage

Crop damage is the most common debilitating wildlife-human conflict. In North Imenti Division of Meru District, the Review Group saw ravaged shambas at Kithoki and Naari; there, communities talk about their losses with earnest bitterness. A similar situation prevails in Trans-Mara Division of Narok District. In Lukore Location of Kwale District, the Review Group saw that people had abandoned good cropland because of their despondence over elephant damage. At several stations, (e.g., Kithoka in Meru, Siyapei in Narok), the Review Group learnt that some farmers had lost their land after crop destruction prevented from repaying their Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) loans. The Kenya National Farmers Union strongly advocates effective animal-control measures from KWS and revival compensation for crop damage.

Livestock Wildlife Problems

People who keep livestock in proximity to wildlife experience multiple problems. Carnivores including lion, hyena, cheetah, leopard and smaller animals frequently prey upon their stock. Diseases transmitted from wild herbivores and carnivores to domestic stock include malignant catarrh fever, East Coast Fever, foot and mouth disease, anaplasmosis and rabies. Wild herbivores’ competition with livestock for grass are a frequent cause of overgrazing, and they also deplete scarce water supplies. Finally, animals often damage or destroy such infrastructural installations as fences and pipes.

Disturbance of Schools and Family Life

Wild animals reportedly take a great toll on community life and institutions. Headmasters, education officers and parents in several locations told the Review Group that elephants had struck terror in the neighbourhoods, disrupting school attendance at great expense to children and parents. In some places, small children had been killed by elephants, and fear of animals makes daily passage to school difficult. Primary schools, particularly, have been affected, as circumstances force teachers to allow children to arrive late in the morning and depart very early in the afternoon to avoid dangerous animals; consequently, school timetables and extracurricular coaching activities have suffered.

Wild animals also prevent women and children from freely collecting firewood and water during the day, while at night, their abundance and proximity prevent men from going home, forcing them to stay overnight in towns.

Social Changes

Important forces of change in addition to land use are education, urbanization and socio-cultural changes, and new occupations, housing, food styles and values. The onset of political pluralism in Kenya also has had an impact.

Problems Related to Ecological Dynamics

Increase in Animal Numbers

In the field, most people say that large animals, especially elephants, have increased in number. A recurrent view is that elephants’ behaviour has changed since they are intelligent and have learned to circumvent all deterrents but gunshot.

District and species data available from KWS and the Department of Remote Sensing and Resource Surveys (DRSRS) is incomplete or out of date (latest possible: 1988). Without this information, it is impossible to confirm or disprove whether wildlife-human conflict has escalated in recent years because elephant, buffalo, zebra, wildebeest, and other troublesome animals have increased in density or number. With incomplete or faulty data, it is impossible to determine whether, in biological terms, such population increases are real or only relative, due perhaps to normal concentration caused by seasonal migrations or to displacement related to changes in wildlife habitats brought on by new human land uses. If KWS is to make intelligent conservation and control decisions, routine monitoring and up-to-date database are absolutely essential.

Environmental Issues of Tourism and Wildlife Management

With no toilet facilities on the beach, hygiene in Mombasa is substandard. Local boatmen say they are forced to relieve themselves on the beaches and in nearby bushes.

Much of Kenya’s land is subject to drought and its fragility places environmental limitations upon conventional land-use options. Often, changes inland use trigger conflict with wildlife and ecological degradation, as at Ol Moran and Ngamba.

Waste disposal from lodges and hotels in protected areas in a major concern, especially in the vicinity of the Mara River and Amboseli. Desertification due to loss of vegetation in the vicinity of lodges and tented camps in Maasai Mara needs urgent attention.

Displacement, confinement and concentration of animals in protected areas and forest corridors means of electric corridors by means of electric fences installed through KWS’s current fencing programme also may lead to problems.

Land Tenure, Land Use and Management Plans

The Review Group noted that CWS is contributing to community education on land-use and habitat conservation. Under CWS, group ranches must present five-year management plans demonstrating viable land-use plans as a prerequisite to obtaining wildlife use rights and cropping quotas. Local wildlife associations assume responsibility for coordinating, preparing and vetting these plans, as well as ensuring that ranchers honour them. Although the Review Group had no opportunity to examine any of these management plans, the group ranchers’ interest in them was keen and obvious.

Summery of Views and Notes on Solutions

Utilization Policy and Legislation

Current policy and law handicap KWS’s full development of community wildlife utilization as an alternative land use leading to sustainable conservation. Under present conditions, KWS has no authority to promote hunting and can not publicly issue licences for professional hunting, animal capture, trade in wildlife goods and related wildlife-utilization activities. Economically, wildlife utilization’s potential for the betterment of Kenyans is at least partly theoretical and needs to be fully proven. The need to create an enabling environment in which KWS can proceed from pilot study to full extension of community wildlife services, if appropriate, is therefore urgent.

The shortcoming of sport hunting in the form it took before 1977 should be avoided. Specifically, hunting programmes must address several concerns if they are to be effective. First, rural populations and settlement have increased to such an extent that people will be affected by hunting no matter where it is done. Second, resumption of hunting inevitably will stir resentment that could affect tourism negatively.

Marketing wildlife products by exporting raw skins is a waste of opportunity. Industrial processing will increase the value of exports by a large factor. Wildlife industries are therefore one of the strategic components to be considered in the entire plan and policy of wildlife utilization.

Implementation of consumptive wildlife utilization require KWS to ask the government of Kenya to change the existing law. Modalities of cropping, game ranching and game farming procedures, and processing and marketing wildlife products (skin, meat, live animals, etc.) need careful evaluation.

Conflict Management Strategy

A combination of prevention and reduction strategies including land-use planning, fencing, problem-animal control, benefit sharing and compensation appears to be the best long term strategy for managing conflict. Current CWS activities include fencing, along with a great deal of community mobilization, and these have had an important effect. Generally, however, conflict-prevention and -reduction strategies need specific definition as a functional block of responsibilities separate from utilization.

Problem-Animal Control

The Problem Animal Control unit at KWS headquarters involves the organizations’s Elephant programme, Security Department and Community Wildlife Service. Close collaboration between these units considered essential, but KWS’s animal-control strategies are not convincingly clear. Furthermore, insufficient allocation of resources to field stations is a lapse that gives credence to assertions that KWS does not assign high priority to problem animal control.

The elephant, the greatest problem animal, poses a dilemma for KWS because of its status as an endangered species governed by international convention. Further study is needed to determine whether community observations about increases in elephant populations and behaviour changes are true and establish the position KWS should adopt in its management of elephants.

KWS cannot continue to avoid technical responsibility for animal control to landowners and commercial agencies, who would dispose of many problem animals through various utilization strategies. Whether local communities and landowners can be entrusted with this role is an issue that requires further investigation.


Together with landowners, victims of wildlife damage deserve highest consideration in answering the question of how best to distribute wildlife benefits. The existing compensation policy requires modification if it is to fit on comprehensive conflict-migration strategy as described in handling Conflict-mitigation and Clashes of interest. If the legal framework of the compensation act is reworked to accommodate a compensation insurance scheme, a potential source of conflict – competition for benefits between victims of wildlife destruction and landowners-could be preempted.

KWS is not currently responsible for payment of compensation – although misconceptions to the contrary greatly intensify conflict. This matter should be clarified through wildlife education and community services as well as in the press.

Solutions to abuse of the compensation system through adequate controls and checks are urgently required.

CWS Function and Performance

CWS project assistance has aroused public interest and even misconceptions, but the pilot project seems to be having a significant impact on community conservation awareness, favourably transforming landowners’ perceptions and attitudes towards wildlife. CWS’s mostly effective prevention of conflict in focal areas with electric fences constitutes evidence that KWS is moving away from the “policy” of avoidance that previously prevailed.

CWS, however, lacks the technical expertise necessary for extension work in game farming and cropping. Horizontal coordination between CWS and other sections of KWS, as well as with external organizations concerned with livestock/ animal production and farming, is also weak.

25 Percent Revenue Share

Benefit sharing (a term the Review Group prefers to revenue sharing) is the most important issue for wildlife conservation outside the protected areas. It is most unfortunate that KWS and the government recognized this important concept only recently, when it should have been the foundation for resource development from the beginning.

Although the 25 percent revenue-sharing policy clearly seems unrealistic, KWS has not raised objections or suggested an alternative formula. At the same time, no one seems to know how the figure of 25 percent was determined or who should be paid. The policy does not take into account whether KWS has made a profit or a loss or state whether losses also should be shared with local communities. There is also some question whether Wildlife for Development Fund (WDF) monies instead of revenue from national parks are being used for revenue-sharing purposes; if so, the policy is clearly unsustainable and bound to collapse.


In view of the current benefits muddle, the Review Group believes landowners are the only true stakeholders who should receive benefits directly from KWS on a regular basis. All other issues of community participation follow from this premise.

If the land in a wildlife area is not trust land, then the county council is not a stakeholder as far as wildlife benefits and costs are concerned. The council’s competition with KWS to retain control of wildlife resources is an issue with fundamental constitutional implications that KWS cannot be expected to solve alone.

The responsibilities and rights of local landowners and communities in wildlife management must be clearly spelled out before KWS enters into further partnership and benefit-sharing with communities.

KWS Management

As a wildlife country, Kenya has the right and need to take a firm stand in the face of conflicting global conservation doctrines. Unfortunately, KWS is not free of old-fashioned protectionist attitudes. This latent protectionism may lead to conflict with principles of control shooting or the use of ineffective (and inexpensive) control practises such as driving animals with helicopters. It tends to perpetuate indecision and avoidance, allowing wildlife-human problems to accumulate so that , with ecological crises ;booming, political solutions often are the only answer.

KWS needs to review its basic conservation precepts, as well as allied training and education materials, to establish a proper balance between respect for human life, the dignity of Kenya’s citizens and the need to conserve the country’s wild animals for the common good. This should start with KWS staff training in conservation education and appropriate values for dealing with communities and individuals, particularly suspected lawbreakers. The inappropriate and cruel behaviour of rangers who have tortured and even killed suspected poachers either reflects bad training or obsolete conservation role models and is a major source of conflict. Since it cuts across all fields and levels of conservation work, the question of appropriate training and attitudes is a key management issue.

Uniforms associated with law enforcement are incompatible with CWS’s work, which encompasses a substantial public-relations component. Uniformed staff (with the exception of mobile antipoaching and security personnel, who could operate in a uniform similar to that of the police Anti-Stock Theft Unit), should work only inside protected areas. CWS personnel working outside protected areas should operate in civilian dress.

In addition, KWS conservation and utilization functions are distinct; in order to emphasize park conservation and community utilization properly, management functions and responsibilities need to be clearly distinguished at deputy-director level. Finally, geographical division of land outside parks into two land-use planning.

Institutional Development

The many new institutions created through CWS community-mobilization efforts including wildlife forums, wildlife associations, conservation areas (COSU) and WDF committes lack definition and specific sanction under the Wildlife (Conservation and Management) (Amendment) Act of 1989. Nor is KWS’s overall strategy for working with these groups in the long term clear. These young institutions are, however, important nuclei in the creation of community awareness, coordination and continuing dialogue and require support and opportunities to participate in decision making.


The sophisticated tourism market demands very high standards of service. For local stakeholders to participate and benefit fully from this sector, they need assistance in drawing up proper development proposals. For these purposes, KWS should consider posting tourism officers, who could be recruited from KWS’s Commercial Department, to communities with potential in this area.

Negative tourism impacts are symptoms of unsustainable development that should be addressed by establishing recognized standards for collection of fuelwood and waste disposal and legal instruments for enforcing compliance.


KWS’s scientific database for wildlife management is out of date, but there is potential to create and benefit from a network of local databases maintained by landowner communities for wildlife-utilization purposes. This important dimension of local institutional growth should be supported by KWS.

Issues at Stake

From the long list of problems and solutions to wildlife-human conflict the Review Group distilled from its public hearings, six major issues emerged. These are changes in legislation, animal control, the 25 percent revenue-sharing policy, institutional development and definition of utilization responsibilities within KWS management.

Core Issues in Community-Wildlife Relations


Bans on hunting and wildlife trade prevent legal utilization

Legal Notice No. 120 of 20 May 1977

Act No. 5 of 1978

Legal Notice No. 181 of 21 August 1979

New legislation for sustainable utilization
Wildlife industries to create value-added exports

2. Animal Control

Fences alone are insufficient

Hierarchical conflict-mitigation strategy = Fences + Control + Compensation

3. 25 Percent Revenue-sharing Policy

Not feasible and intensifies conflict.
Unanswered questions

How was the 25 percent figure decided?

To whom should it be paid and in what proportions?

Is 25 percent a long-term target or a rule?

Will communities also share costs and deficits?


25 percent rule in unfair to KWS at this stage and should be removed or amended
Contributions from other stakeholders should be solicited
Landowners and groups at the bottom should receive preferential shares of benefits

4. Compensation

Property compensation not feasible at present; KWS is not responsible for payment
Hierarchical conflict-mitigation strategy to minimize risk (see 2 above).
Compensation insurance scheme with cost sharing by tourism developers.

5. Institutional Development:

Not provided for at present, but CWS initiatives noted
Community groups, local NGOs, etc. needed for sustainable development and conservation partnership.
Provide policy framework for effective participation and support.

6. KWS Management

Responsibilities outside protected areas lack emphasis

Distinguish community work, utilization and conflict mitigation functions outside protected areas at deputy-director level.