Impact of Electric Fence on Pastoralists Movement in Ol Pejeta Eco-System in Laikipia, Kenya
Mutahi, D. Muthoni
Mwangi, P. Gichohi
Mutura, R. Bariu
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The challenge of human- wildlife conflict (HWC) in Ol Pajeta eco-system has been there since early 1980s. An electric fence was erected as a mitigation strategy to resolve HWC 2006. However, some parts such as southern boundary of Mutara ADC farm had not been fenced. By 2009 electric fence was installed on the southern boundary of Mutura ADC farm. The fencing closed out migratory corridors of elephants, interfered with pastoralists’ movement patterns and morans’ cultural rite activities. Persistent drought and increased elephants aggression in the eco-system has compounded the problem of HWC due to dwindling natural resources particularly water, vegetations and mineral licks. Consequently, tempering of fence by pastoralists and morans’ rites activities rendered electric fence ineffective hence elephants had easy access to farms. This led to increased farm raids incidences by elephants. These farm raids have consequently resulted to escalation of threats to human life, leading to low school retention rates and food insecurity. Moreover, food insecurity spread of zoonotics, livestock diseases and pests were a great source of concern to the major stake- holders. Hence, the problem of HWC related to threats on wildlife conservation, safety of human and their livelihood had continued to persist. The purpose of the study was to establish the impact of electric fence on pastoralist movement in Ol Pejeta conservancy. The general objective of the study was to assess the impact of electric fence on pastoralists in Ol Pajeta conservancy. Cross-sectional descriptive survey and purposive sampling were used to identify the respondents. Interviews and focused group discussions were used for data collection. The conservancy communities could conduct awareness campaigns on the benefits of local communities’ participation in conservation efforts and eco-tourism and address the water problem; introduce school feeding programs,pest control mechanisms. The community could be involved as key stakeholders in the conservancy by restoring and maintaining migratory corridors in partnership with the government among other stakeholders in OLpajeta ecosystem. This approach enhances acceptability of the electric fence because it upholds the communities values and priorities, thus eventually mitigating human- wildlife conflict in OlPajeta resulting to peaceful co-existence between the communities and wildlife. If this approach of community participation and involvement is enhanced and sustainably managed, such conservancy strategies can be replicated nationally and international as a creative and innovative mitigation strategy for restoration of peace and reconciliation in areas experiencing human- wildlife conflict hotspots. The approach of this magnitude can contribute immensely in biodiversity management, conservation of wildlife resources in Kenya and the rest of the world for socio-economic development now and in future.