Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Cultivating the Savanna: Implications of land use change for Maasai livelihoods and wildlife conservation in East Africa
by Lynn, Stacy Joy, Ph.D., Colorado State University, 2010, 329; 3419111
Abstract (Summary)

People and animals have co-evolved with intact, unfragmented rangelands in most drylands of the world, where pastoral livestock-based economies have existed for thousands of years. In East Africa, however, Maasai pastoral land use is changing so that cultivation is increasingly incorporated into the repertoire of livelihood regimes. The Tarangire-Manyara Ecosystem (TME) of northern Tanzania includes two national parks (Tarangire NP (TNP) and Lake Manyara NP (LMNP)), but these protected areas cover only 15% of the ecosystem. The remainder of the ecosystem is comprised of village lands where people and wildlife share the landscape. Managers assume that cultivation in the village lands of the Simanjiro Plains east of TNP will interfere with wildlife migrations into the villages to access important wet season water and forage resources. However, to date no research has explicitly measured the response of local wildlife to cultivation. Additionally, the local history of non-participatory wildlife administration and past land evictions, combined with fears of potential park expansions, has led to decades of tension between TME wildlife managers and local residents. If native species will tolerate levels of fragmentation currently assumed to be detrimental, then there may be flexibility to balance landscape and livelihood sustainability, as well as an opportunity to ease conservation-livelihood conflict.

In 2003 I conducted 207 household interviews in three Simanjiro villages (Sukuro, Loiborsoit and Emboreet) on the topics of land use, household demographics and livelihoods, human-wildlife conflicts, and perceptions of conservation and wildlife. In the wet season of 2004, after wildlife had dispersed onto village lands, I conducted a multi-method and multi-scaled wildlife study to determine species-specific wildlife responses to cultivation in Simanjiro. The species of interest were primarily zebra, wildebeest and Grant's and Thompson's gazelle. Data were also collected on livestock so that the impact of livestock densities could be considered in the interpretation of wildlife density distributions.

Six 5-10 km2 sampling areas (SAs) were selected across a 500 km2 portion of the village landscape to cover a gradient of cultivation density. Animals were counted from a vehicle approximately every three weeks, and each group's location was triangulated to a point on the landscape. Eight 1m x 1+km exterior transects originating at the edge of cultivated fields in the study SAs were also walked to obtain print counts along a distance-to-edge gradient to attain information on unobserved nighttime movements. A paired interior 1m x 50m interior transect was also walked. Using a geographic information system (GIS) I developed a distance-weighted cultivation density metric, cultivation intensity (CI), which I used to compare observed wildlife distributions to a null model composed of 30 randomized re-distributions of the observed data to detect landscape-scale wildlife responses to cultivation. I then analyzed transect data both to detect edge effects of cultivation, and to identify problem crop-raiding species and landscape-level patterns of raids.

Integration of multiple scales of analysis, plus information on human-wildlife conflict obtained from interviews, suggests that dense cultivation repels migratory wildlife at the landscape scale, but benefits cultivators due to less wildlife ingress and damage. Conversely, scattered cultivation allows wildlife passage but encourages crop invasion. Interview data reveal that despite the risk of crop failure in this semi-arid ecosystem, cultivation is an important component of contemporary pastoral livelihoods, boosting food production, maintaining livestock herds, and buffering household vulnerability. The conservation of wildlife generates monetary benefits for the country of Tanzania, but these benefits rarely reach local people who bear the costs of wildlife through land loss and direct and indirect conflicts with the predators and herbivores that threaten their safety and livelihoods. As a result there is no incentive, monetary or otherwise, for people to conserve wildlife. The costs are too high. Conversely, the benefits of cultivation are felt primarily at the local level and costs perceived at the national level in terms of wildlife conservation.

Emergent research findings suggest that concentrating cultivated plots in large clusters on the landscape would allow subsistence farming to continue with potentially minimal impact on wildlife beyond the boundaries of the clusters. Concentrated plots would also produce less edge, reducing wildlife intrusions with effective guarding. However, the combination of weak land rights and expectations of further land dispossession encourage dispersed cultivation as a means to claim land ownership. In addition, risk to patchiness of rainfall may be accentuated through a clustering arrangement.

vi The cumulative change to the TME landscape over the last decade has been astonishing, and will only continue in the absence of conservation planning that is truly collaborative and provides for the livelihood of local people.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Coughenour, Michael B.
Commitee: Fernandez-Gimenez, Maria E., Galvin, Kathleen A., Swift, David M., Theobald, David M.
School: Colorado State University
Department: Ecology (Graduate Degree Program)
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: DAI-B 71/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Wildlife Conservation, Ecology, Social research, Agricultural economics, Sub Saharan Africa Studies
Keywords: Cultivation, East Africa, Land evictions, Land use, Landscape ecology, Maasai, Park expansions, Savanna, Tanzania, Wildlife conservation
Publication Number: 3419111
ISBN: 9781124184845