Joseph Muiruri Karanja 2020

Kenya, Ph.D., Sustainable Environmental Studies, University of Tsukuba, Japan, M.S., Sustainability Science, UN University, Japan

Do Wildlife Conservancies Promote Peace in Pastoral Communities of Kenya?

Joseph Muiruri Karanja

Project Description

Biodiversity loss and degradation of ecosystems are threats to human well-being and peaceful coexistence. The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15 calls for urgent actions to curb biodiversity loss and degradation of natural habitats. This is more pressing for wildlife biodiversity that has declined by 60% in the last four decades (WWF, 2018). Article 8(j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) stresses on the critical role of indigenous people in conserving biodiversity. About 8% of global biodiversity is found on indigenous territories (CBD, 2018). However, marginalization of indigenous people from conservation works tends to beget conflicts with conservationists (Ogada, 2016; Karanja and Matsui 2017). These conflicts have hindered progress towards SDG 10 that strives to empower marginalized communities, SDG 15 that promotes biodiversity conservation, and SGD 16 that aims to promote peace. This is more pronounced in the pastoral rangelands of Kenya that provide habitats for both wildlife and livestock.

In Kenya, pastoral rangeland ecosystems host about 65% of wildlife. Indeed, wildlife is embedded in cultural practices of many nomadic pastoralists. Pastoralism accounts for about 10% of the Kenya’s gross domestic product and provides livelihoods for about 10 million people (IUCN, 2007.)

Within the last two decades, however, wildlife conservancies have skyrocketed in Kenya’s pastoral rangelands. There are about 160 conservancies covering approximately 11% of Kenya’s landmass (Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association, 2016). Wildlife conservancies were established not only to enhance wildlife conservation and protection of endangered species, but also to foster human (pastoralists)-wildlife coexistence, reduce human-wildlife conflicts and diversify livelihoods of host communities (Ogada, 2016; Karanja and Matsui, 2018). According to the Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (2016), about 707,460 households benefit directly from wildlife conservancies initiatives.

Although conservancies were partly established to reduce human-wildlife conflicts, from 2011 to 2015, human-wildlife conflicts increased by 85% (Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association, 2016). However, the correlation between wildlife conservancies and human-wildlife conflicts and peace building efforts is yet to be scientifically examined. This is important to examine because some conservancies have been castigated over communal and private land rights violations, unfair distribution of revenues, and insecurity particularly in the northern rangeland areas. For instance, the Isiolo County Governor, Mohammed Kuti, criticized the conservancy model for fueling conflicts among pastoral communities (Mutethia, 2019). Turkana County Government also censured six conservancies for operating illegally (Lutta, 2016). In Laikipia County, our earlier research indicated that perennial conflicts exist between conservancies/ranches and pastoralists which is often compounded by politics (Karanja and Matsui, 2017).

On the other hand, some conservancies have been praised for fostering peaceful human-wildlife coexistence, particularly in the southern rangelands. For instance, Kajiado and Narok County Governments have embraced the conservancy model. In 2016, the Narok County Government enacted Maasai Mara Community Support Bill to ensure equitable revenue allocation for the communities around the Maasai Mara National Reserve (Maasai Mara Community Support Bill, 2016).

Why this drastic discrepancy between the southern and northern rangelands? Do wildlife conservancies enhance/impede peace building efforts? If they enhance, can it be replicated to other regions? Therefore, the overall objective of this study is to examine whether wildlife conservancies supplement or impede peace building efforts in pastoralists counties in Kenya.

The results of this study are expected to clarify on how wildlife conservancies influence peace building efforts in pastoral rangelands. It will also clarify suitability of conservancy model as an alternative land use in communal land tenure system. This will aid in the implementation of the Community Land Act of 2016 that promotes administration and preservation of customary land rights. It will also inform Wildlife Conservation and Management Act of 2013 that promotes (1) wildlife conservation as a form of land use, and (2) the establishment of private and community wildlife conservancies.

Joseph Muiruri Karanja, Ph.D. Bio

Dr. Karanja is a Lecturer at the Department of Environmental Studies, Geography and Agriculture in Maasai Mara University. He is spearheading research on local resilience and sustainability through nature-based and community-led approaches. He has conducted extensive research on climate change resilience, Eco-DRR, nature-based conflicts, and sustainable use and conservation of local natural resources particularly within and around protected areas.

He holds a PhD in (Sustainable) Environmental Studies from the University of Tsukuba in Japan; a Master of Science in Sustainability from the United Nations University, Japan; and, a bachelor’s degree in Disaster Management and International Diplomacy from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology, Kenya.

Selected Publications

Peer-viewed Journal Papers

  1. Joseph Muiruri Karanja & Osamu Saito (2018). Cost–benefit analysis of mangrove ecosystems in flood risk reduction: a case study of the Tana Delta, Kenya. Sustainability Science Journal, 13 (2), 503-516.
  2. Joseph Muiruri Karanja, Kenichi Matsui & Osamu Saito (2018). Problems of public participation in the Ramsar CEPA programme at the Tana Delta, Kenya. Wetlands Ecology and Management Journal, 26 (4), 525-535.
  3. Joseph Muiruri Karanja & Kenichi Matsui (2018). Synergy issues for rhinoceros conservation and protection in Kenya. International Journal of Environmental Science and Development, 9 (11), 336-340.
  4. Bernard Kwame Oppong-Kusi, Kenichi Matsui, Joseph Karanja, Hesborn Ondiba & Eliud Kiprop (2018). The assessment of women land rights in the Dormaa Traditional Area, Ghana. International Journal of Management and Applied Sciences, 4 (5), 19-22.

Book Chapters

  1. Joseph Muiruri Karanja & Abdul-Razak Zakaraia. (2018). Africa and Climate Change Refugees Quandary: Kenya Perspective. In: Akanle, O., & Adesina, J. (Eds.). The Development of Africa: Issues, Diagnoses and prognoses (255-267). Social Indicators Research Series, Vol 71. Springer.
  2. Joseph Muiruri Karanja, Hesborn Ondiba & Eliud Kiprop. (2018). Comparative Analysis of REDD+ Projects in Madagascar and Costa Rica. In: Ahire, K. D., Attitalla, I., Vasileva, V., & Brishammar (Eds.). Scenario of Environment and Development (12-22). International Journal of Multidisciplinary Innovative Research.  ISBN: 978-93-5346-498-1.

Proceeding Papers

  1. Eliud Kiprop, Kenichi Matsui, Joseph M. Karanja, Hesborn Andole, and Nicholas Maundu. (2019). Demand Side Management Opportunities in Meeting Energy Demand in Kenya. Grand Renewable Energy 2018 Proceedings. 17-18, June. Yokohama, Japan.
  2. Joseph Muiruri Karanja, Kenichi Matsui, Hesborn Andole, Eliud Kiprop & Bernard Oppong-Kusi (2018). Fragmentation in the In-situ Conservation of Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya. Dakam International Conference on Ecology, Ecosystems and Climate Change. 23-24, February. Istanbul, Turkey. Pp 17-24.
  3. Joseph Muiruri Karanja, Kenichi Matsui, Hesborn Andole & Eliud Kiprop (2018). Kenya-Tanzania Conservation Synergy for Migratory Lesser Flamingoes. The IAFOR International Conference on Sustainability, Energy and the Environment. 4-6, January. Hawaii, USA. Pp 111-119.
  4. Bernard Oppong-Kusi, Kenichi Matsui, Joseph Karanja, Hesborn Ondiba & Eliud Kiprop (2018). Examining Conflicts over Land Acquisition and Ownership in the Dormaa Traditional Area, Ghana. The IAFOR International Conference on Sustainability, Energy and the Environment. 4-6, January. Hawaii, USA. Pp 67-74.
  5. Joseph Muiruri Karanja & Kenichi Matsui (2017). Pastoralism, Politics and Poaching: The PPP nexus in Kenya. UNU/jfUNU junior fellow symposium: Towards Sustainable Global Society, March 11 and 12. Tokyo, Japan. Pp 140-141.

The Foundation acknowledges that Joseph Muiruri Karanja has successfully completed his project.