This study focused on the assessment of factors affecting Isiolo county community wildlife conservancy with reference to ecotourism development in Kenya. Community based wildlife conservancy has become a popular approach especially in Africa since it has been found to be effective in conservation of wildlife outside protected areas and ecotourism developments. However community based wildlife conservation approach faces a number of challenges undermining its achievement of ecotourism goals. Thus, the study established factors constraining community wildlife conservancy in achieving ecotourism. The objectives of the study were to establish community based factors affecting community wildlife conservancy in achieving ecotourism. To examine socio-ecological factors hindering development of ecotourism by community wildlife conservancy and to establish remedies to the challenges to eco-tourism development in Merti Sub-County. The study was guided by two theories; Structural functionalism Theory and political ecology Theory. Descriptive survey design was used; interview schedules and Focus Group Discussion were used to collect data from respondents. The study usedstratified samplingto arrive at a sample of 120 households who were permanent resident of Merti, Cherrab and Kom Divisions of Merti Sub-County and purposive sampling of eight key informants, five men and three women who took part in FGD. Field data was analyzed using SPSS and Excel, analyzed data was presented using frequency table, pie charts, bar graphs and percentages.Pilot study was conducted at Archer’s post, Samburu County of Kenya to establish suitability and clarity of the research instruments. Findings of this study indicated that majority of the respondents 92.5% believed that ecotourism development by community wildlife conservancy is ineffective because of effects of community based, socio-ecological and technical factors which requires an urgent remedies. Key community based factors identified are low level of education, high level of poverty, insecurity, inadequate infrastructure development and human wildlife conflict. Socio-ecological factors are habitat destruction, poaching, disease transmission, and compensation procedures. The study recommends inclusion of wildlife conservation and ecotourism study in primary and secondary school curriculum and formation of a body that shall oversee community wildlife conservation initiative and its welfare. This study concludes that factors affecting Isiolo county community wildlife conservancy with reference to ecotourism development are majorly limited to the community actions and hence this study recommends initiation of community capacity building forums and active management participation.

Background to the Study
The problem of wildlife conservation has been a global concern due to the fact that unless proper measures are put in place, the endangered species of flora and fauna might be extinct in the near future. It has been universally agreed that tourism is the world’s fastest expanding industry creating jobs for millions and sustaining livelihoods, but at the same time one of the limitation include destruction of the same resources that it intends to conserve. Ideally ecotourism encourages natural resource conservation in return for local and national economic benefits, in addition to offering local, national and international tourists an opportunity to enjoy and learn about nature while respecting local culture (Harris and Harris, 2002).The damages to the ecosystem attributed to the mass tourism are mainly habitat destruction, land degradation and pollution.

The United Nations declared 2002 as the International Year of Ecotourism (IYE). Ecotourism has been defined by the International Ecotourism Society (IES) as responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and sustains the well-being of local people. Ecotourism has been globally adopted as an alternative to mass tourism (Foskett and Foskett, 1991). Some players in tourism industries have introduced a new concept of compensation called Eco-labeling to substitute for any environmental disturbances that might be caused by tourist during their stay (Lanza, Markaya, and Piglian, 1989).

This international definition of ecotourism implies that all revenue generating activities carried out under community based wildlife conservancy (CBWC) fall under this type of tourism. Ecotourism concentrate on visitors who were interested in touring wildlife and local population in their original ecosystem (lindersay, et al, 2007). Rutten (2004) stated that wildlife conservation by local communities has drastically transformed in Africa especially Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa because several community based wildlife conservancy have emerged as from late 1980s and early 1990s improving livelihood and preserving nature adopting community based natural resource management (CBNRM) program. According to Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS, 2010), more than 70% of the country’s wildlife live outside protected areas, which include the national parks, reserves and sanctuaries. The protected area covers 8% of the Kenya land mass. This has given an opportunity to communities living around parks and reserve areas to initiate community based wildlife conservancies including protecting wildlife and engaging in ecotourism enterprise for financial gains in return for conservation, to accrue and conserving the same for future generation as sustainable livelihood alternative and to utilize their uses without compromising consumption of the same resources by future generations.

Kenya’s wildlife population is declining at an alarming rate due to several factors including habitat loss, poaching, human wildlife conflict, natural calamities and disease and the decline will always affect the tourism in Kenya, which is popular for wildlife viewing(Kiarie, 2013).Wildlife conservation in Kenya greatly depends on the performance of private and community initiatives as the best approach (Butler, 2012).The idea of community based wildlife conservancy was borrowed from Southern Africa countries after success stories were registered from several community centered wildlife managements by the name Communal Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (CAMPFIRE). The initiative was introduced in Merti Sub- County by Ian Crag in 2007 under the auspices of Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT) as Biliqo- Bulesa community wildlife conservancy.

This study conceptualizes Community Wildlife Conservancy (CWC) as protection of wildlife in their natural habitat, including continuous monitoring and security surveillance as well as engaging in ecotourism and developing niche in eco products offer. Otiende et al (1991) Observed that wildlife and aquatic life are essential in the country’s economic development because Kenya depends on wildlife as one of major sector enhancing foreign exchange and revenue earning hence need to be protected to achieve full potentials and realization of vision 2030. The community needs enlightening to accrue maximum benefit from the initiative by eradicating community based and ecological challenges on the way to the success of the initiative.

Statement of Problem
Community based wildlife conservancy has become a popular approach especially in Africa since it has been found to be effective in conservation of wildlife outside protected areas and for ecotourism developments. However, assessment of community based, ecological factors and technical factors affecting Isiolo county community wildlife conservancy with reference to ecotourism development in Kenya are not documented thus, the concern for this study.

Objectives of the Study
Broad objective
The broad objective of this study was to investigate factors affecting Isiolo county community wildlife conservancy with reference to ecotourism development in Kenya.

Specific objectives
The following were the specific objectives of the study:

i. To establish community based factors affecting community wildlife conservancy in achieving ecotourism.

ii. To examine socio-ecological factors hindering development of ecotourism by community wildlife conservancy.

iii. To establish technical factors affecting community wildlife conservancy in adopting ecotourism.

Research Questions
The study was guided by the following research questions:

i. How community do based factors affect community wildlife conservancy in achieving ecotourism?

ii. What are the socio-ecological factors that hinder ecotourism by community wildlife conservancy?

iii. How do technical factors influence adaptation of ecotourism by community wildlife conservancy in Isiolo County?

Justifications of the Study
This study focused on a subject that has been scantily studied. Few studies have been carried out to determine factors affecting community based wildlife conservancy in relation to ecotourism development. The community based wildlife conservancy approach has been widely accepted and currently there are more than ten community based wildlife conservancies operating in Samburu, Isiolo and Tana River counties under the auspices of Northern Rangeland Trust (NRT). Thus there is need to explore the challenges faced by this community initiative in the development of ecotourism in non-protected areas that will generate revenue for the conservancy projects.

Ecotourism has been identified as the fastest growing segment in tourism industry and as the major revenue earner for conservancies. Some of the challenges are community based and need to be addressed effectively to gain maximum benefits. This includes insecurity, human wildlife conflict, poverty, and others. With clear and efficient civic education and awareness plan this obstacle can be cleared to gain maximum conservational and ecotourism benefits. Socio- ecological factors like honey harvesting, human have triggered fires which has contributed to the destruction of the wildlife habitat in addition to poaching and charcoal burning.

Sustainable ecotourism products have been identified, This include wildlife viewing in their natural habitat, bird shooting, campsite, hot spring bath and nature trail in addition to direct interaction with the conserving community. The ecotourism products mentioned will generate revenue for the community development projects and also be able to serve future needs. The challenges affecting community wildlife conservancy in adopting ecotourism were outlined as community based and ecological factors, appropriate remedies were identified to eradicate them to gain maximum benefits. The findings of this study are hoped to contribute to the body of knowledge in the field of community wildlife conservation approach and ecotourism development, which is a new entrant to the tourism industry and the world of community development by providing solutions to outlined challenges. The findings of this study further boost economic benefit of CBWC approach to the nation and the communities in Isiolo County.

Scope and Limitations of the Study
The study was conducted in Merti Sub-County in Isiolo County, Kenya to establish challenges facing community based wildlife conservancy in promoting ecotourism. Ecotourism activities in the conservancy were started in 2007 and it have attracted a good number of tourists who mainly come for wildlife viewing and bird shooting at an attractive hot spring in kurro in the vast conservancy. Some respondents were ignorant of the objectives of the study and hence inability to get required information.

Majority of the respondents are illiterate and many were not able to understand objectives of the study. Isiolo is a security turbulent area and some respondents did not open up to some items of the study e.g. poaching. There was demand for incentives by some respondents to give vital information as others avoided participation for confidentiality reasons. In the situation where the respondents could not communicate in English, translation of the enquiries into Kiswahili or vernacular was done to enhance communication. For sensitive information like matters on poaching, the researcher promised utmost confidentiality and surety that the data was only to be used for intended purposes.The remote areas of Merti Sub-county were not accessible during rainy season due to poor road networks. Necessary measures were put in place to ensure that field work was accomplished when rains subsided.

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Item Type: Kenyan Topic  |  Size: 82 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.


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