Livestock, wild animals can co-exist in one space, model shows

Friday March 17 2017

Two men watch livestock graze in a ranch.

Two men watch livestock graze in a ranch. According to a model, once upon a time wildlife co-existed seamlessly with livestock in the savannas. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By PAULINE KAIRU
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Once upon a time, wildlife co-existed seamlessly with livestock in the savannas.

The ecosystem supported the richest variety of wildlife as well as livestock.

But all one is hearing currently is conflict between wild animals, livestock and man.

Dickson Simiren ole Kaelo, the chief executive of Kenya Conservancies Association, however, says it is possible to re-establish in local conservancies similar arrangements in which both domesticated and wild animals co-exist. 

The Wildlife Act 2013 states that pastoralists can have grazing arrangement of livestock in the national parks. 

To manage the shared resource, holistic grazing is practised to maximise the productivity of the land.

Even though life with wildlife can carry some heavy costs like loss of livestock to the predators or competition with wildlife for pasture, the benefits are numerous.

By keeping all of them together, one is utilising different levels of the pastures and promoting survival of various species thus balancing out the ecosystem.

Because the different herbivores’ utilise different levels of pastures, this promotes the propagation of the different species of pasture.

“A lot of conservancies are experimenting on working with pastoralists. Areas that are grazed by livestock become very rich nutritional hotspots for wildlife and vice versa,” explains Ole Kaelo, adding that although the grazing plans often collapse when severe drought hits, the conservancies and the parks are the last places with grass.

This is the reason why outsiders often overrun the conservancies and it points to the need to create grazing conservancies that do not cater exclusively to wildlife to minimise the risk of invasion by pastoralists.

“The problem we have is not that we have too many animals, it is animals spending too long a time at any one grazing patch,” he says.