Pastoral landscapes support the richest biodiversity of large mammals on earth with an estimated 70% of this wildlife dispersed outside protected areas. If properly managed, nomadic pastoral livestock production is potentially the most environmentally compatible agricultural activity in this ecosystem, as it allows the mobility of wildlife in landscapes with variable spatial and seasonal resources. In these pastoral lands people, wildlife and livestock have co-existed for millennia.
Areas protected for conservation purposes, such as national parks, require surrounding wildlife dispersal areas to allow animals to migrate in and out. These dispersal areas are usually inhabited by local communities and the use of the same natural resources by multiple actors raises issues of resource allocation and can lead to competition and conflict.
Livestock are often considered a threat to natural resources in the African pastoral areas, and especially to ungulates and other large mammals which share the same habitats with livestock species. However, there is growing recognition that, if carefully managed, there can be a “grazing complementarity” between wildlife and livestock, and harmonious coexistence is possible, given supportive institutional arrangements. Used in balance with environmental resources, livestock have been shown to enhance habitats for wildlife and improve its productivity.
In East Africa, the land use described above is under further pressure as human populations increase. Fast growing pastoralist populations are not able to sustain their livelihoods from livestock production alone and are forced to adopt livelihood strategies which are incompatible with wildlife, such as cropping. In addition, pastoral land and wildlife dispersal areas are under threat from external actors who are allocated larger tracts of land for commercial cropping. The spontaneous spread of agriculture throughout this semi-arid ecosystem, by both pastoralists and external agents, has resulted in habitat change and truncation of important ecosystems. It also threatens the region’s biodiversity, environmental stability and food security.
The project “Novel forms of livestock and wildlife integration adjacent to protected areas in Africa: Tanzania” sought to address these current trends and declines. Increased agricultural activities have undermined the ability of predominately Maasai pastoralists to pursue viable livelihoods in land that is adjacent to protected areas as significant portions of the high potential areas normally used for grazing are rapidly being sub-divided for agriculture. This has weakened the ability of pastoralism to effectively sustain the livelihoods of local communities in wildlife dispersal areas through traditional mobile livestock keeping. There is increasing evidence of points of conflict between wildlife, livestock and cropping. As a result, for the past two decades, globally significant wildlife has been deteriorating quantitatively in this ecosystem. The majority of these conflicts result from poorly managed access to and scarcity of resources and poor livestock and human health.
This project responded to Government of Tanzania’s environmental priorities for the productive management of land resources, the conservation of biodiversity, protection of wildlife resources, maintenance of ecological integrity and promotion of rural livelihoods. The project was particularly pertinent to the context of Tanzania which is in the process of implementing land use planning at a national scale and has put in place legislation governing land use planning providing general guidelines and procedures.