Ecological Outcomes of the Community Conservancy Model
A Case Study of Naibunga Community Conservancy, Laikipia County, Kenya.
The establishment of community-based wildlife conservancies in Africa’s communal rangelands has increased in the recent past. Such conservancies are regarded as important for reducing land degradation, bolstering wildlife conservation, and enhancing livestock productivity. However, the ecological implications of such conservancies are not fully understood. Working in Naibunga community conservancy, we evaluated the ecological effects of the community conservancy model in Naibunga Community Conservancy in northern Kenya. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), used as a proxy for productivity, was analysed for the periods prior to (1989-2003) and post (2005-2020) conservancy establishment using Landsat 4, 5, and 7 satellite image data in Google Earth Engine (GEE). Further, 19 experimental plots measuring 30m x 30m were surveyed for species diversity and composition. Wild ungulate and livestock population data for the periods prior to (1989-2003) and after (2005-2020) conservancy establishment were obtained from the Directorate of Remote Sensing and Resource Survey (DRSRS). Simpson’s diversity index was used to describe vegetation species diversity and composition, and regression analyses were performed on NDVI values, wild ungulate, and livestock population data. Normalised difference vegetation index showed a significant declining temporal trend prior to conservancy establishment, whereas it exhibited no significant temporal trend post-conservancy establishment. Species diversity was generally low with Simpson’s diversity index ranging between 0.8794 and 0.9524 across all sampled sites. Both livestock and wild ungulate populations showed no significant temporal trends prior to conservancy establishment, whereas livestock (but not wild ungulate) populations showed a significant increasing trend post-conservancy establishment. Based on these findings, the community conservancy model as applied in this study region appears to be an important approach for preventing land degradation in communal rangelands.
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