Study Site #4 – Laikipia, Kenya
Laikipia Maasai Group Ranches lie side-by-side with very large ranches that were occupied by European settler ranches from 1915 forward and continue to be held as integrated ranches, and small-holder farmers who settled on sub-divided and privatized ranches. Laikipia has become an important case of non-state wildlife conservation, with more wildlife being held on these private lands than in Kenya’s national parks and reserves.
Ranchers have increasingly practiced high-end private tourism on lands set aside for wildlife, while conservancies have been created in Group Ranch rangelands and forests to protect biodiversity and benefit from the tourist industry. This project will examine the diversity in Laikipia models for community conservation, in particular, those involved large-scale individual privatized programs and those involved un-subdivided Group Ranches with indigenous Maasai communities. An important role is being played by the Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) in coordinating the conservancy movement both in Laikipia and Samburu Counties, with which ACC collaborates, and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), an international conservation funding body of increasing influence.
Our partner organization, IMPACT, led by Johnson Ole Kaunga, has long worked in the region on community development and land rights. In partnership with IMPACT and McGill interns, Dr. Jacques Pollini has carried out three research scoping studies in this site: July 2016 in Girgir Group Ranch, November 2016 in Rumuruti County, and June 2017 in Ilng’wesi Group Ranch.
Laikipia is the site of research on CAB by one McGill Ph.D student and one MA student from Geography with whom J. Unruh and J. Galaty serve as advisors, and Anthropology Ph.D student Graham Fox, being supervised by J. Galaty. Further, Klerkson Lugusa, a PhD student in Natural Resource Sciences being supervised by Prof. Nico Kosoy, will be carrying out his research in Samburu County. In 2016, Prof. Kosoy conducted a series of community focus group discussions in Laikipia, Isiolo and Samburu to investigate attitudes towards conservation.
In addition, four McGill interns have been hosted in Laikipia by IMPACT: Sally Hough and Carla Massero in 2016 and Asterix Hassan and David Barmes in 2017.