In order to ensure sustainable solutions for this biologically important area and its wildlife, an understanding of the interaction between wildlife and people is important for conservation. If the two are to co-exist, conflicts must be minimised by decreasing the costs and increasing the benefits that come to the local communities as they interact with wildlife.
Therefore, the Sagala Community, Wildlife and Environment Programme (SCWEP) will focus on the following areas:
- Supporting alternative income generation – Reducing illegal activities within the conservancy such as livestock grazing, poaching and charcoal burning through supporting long term sustainable income generation activities such as the introduction of Aloe Vera as an environmentally and economically viable crop.
- Encouraging the adequate protection of crops – One method that has proved particularly successful at deterring elephants from crop raiding is planting rows of pepper trees around ‘hotspots’. Elephants will not cross these boundaries. Methods are currently being tested for baboons as well. SCWEP will be facilitating the introduction of pepper trees in surrounding communities
- Supporting appropriate Agroforestry practices – Increasing land and population pressure has had tremendous negative impact on the original forest and tree canopy of Tsavo. Communities are engaged with unsustainable charcoal production due to high poverty levels and a lack of alternative income generation activities. Agroforestry can provide at least one alternative solution through regeneration of the indigenous tree cover contiguous with providing alternative fast growing fuel wood trees and sustainable cash crops.
- Encouraging sustainable farming – Population growth has led to increasing land pressure and often poor farming practices has led to rapid deterioration of land through erosion and mono-culture farming. Diversification of farming crops as well as introduction of species such as the vetiver grass will help rejuvenate land and provide an alternative income to small scale farmers
- Facilitating alternative eco-tourism – Ample participatory studies have shown that communities adjacent to the national parks have benefited little from the wildlife tourism. Many in fact perceive the wildlife to be more of a hindrance than a benefit due to crop destruction and loss of lives. Local communities still stand to gain if support for unique and creative ideas is harnessed. Cultural and Environmental eco-tourism is one area that can capitalise on the default tourism industry. Both local and international tourists are often looking for more than game drives and searching to experience some of the local cultural and stunning environment surroundings.
- Improving animal husbandry techniques – Throughout Kenya, many communities (if not all), at least own one type of animal. Unfortunately, communities in the rural areas are often unable to provide adequate care for their animals. Simple interventions such as regular deworming of domestic animals can improve animal welfare and consequently increase the economical viability of livestock.
- Regeneration of the natural ecosystem – Large ranches surrounding the national parks are used for cattle ranching. Today, some have chosen to stop extensive cattle ranching and allow the land to be used by wildlife as a migration corridor. However, large cattle herds has caused extensive damage of the natural grasslands and needs to be restored by controlled interventions and selective clearing and pruning in order to regenerate the natural savannah grassland hence providing necessary fodder for the herbivorous wildlife as well as supplementing water during the dry period by construction of water holes.
- Conservation research – Participatory Rural Appraisal on human-wildlife interface