Drought - Would you cancel safari?


Jan 23rd, 2006, 01:21 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 17
Hello Everyone,

This was just posted by the Kenya Tourist Board... another perspective on the situation.

It appears that there have been various exaggerated reports in the media regarding the current drought which have given the impression that there is widespread suffering and starvation across the whole of Kenya. There have also been various reports in some overseas media suggesting that there is also a serious problem affecting wildlife and that wild animals are dying in big numbers, that they are migrating out of the parks and cannot be seen and that wild animals are rampaging into farms and killing farmers.

This is painting a very negative picture and could cause some potential tourists to decide against a trip to Kenya. Also they may be worried that their wildlife viewing will be poor if the animals have all moved out of the parks or if they are dying because of drought.

Please see below for up-to-date briefing notes on the situation…

1. As has been reported, there is currently a drought in much of Kenya following the failure of the short rains which has mainly affected the pastoralist communities in North Eastern Kenya along the border with Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan and some other parts of Eastern Province which are semi-arid areas prone to drought.

2. There is certainly not famine and starvation throughout Kenya and it is mainly affecting certain arid regions where people are very dependent on their herds of livestock. Kenya is a very varied country, with semi-arid or desert country along the borders with Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan, whereas other parts of Kenya are very fertile and produce a surplus of crops. Indeed Kenya is currently exporting maize to Tanzania.

3. It is true that people are suffering severe food shortages and serious hardship in the worst affected areas and indeed the government, community leaders and the private sector have been helping in providing relief food supplies to the affected communities. The tourist industry in Kenya has set up a relief fund to assist people in the affected areas. Because tourism has been doing well for the last year, such companies are now able to assist people who have been afflicted by the drought.

4. In the areas adjacent to the national parks and reserves there are many community wildlife projects, especially near the Mara, Amboseli, Samburu, Tsavo and Laikipia. In these areas the local people are using tourism as an alternative income provider to livestock rearing. In fact tourism is very important as an alternative livelihood for people in many dry areas near national parks, who would otherwise be dependent only on livestock. For example, on some of the Maasai community lands around Amboseli and Mara, people are able to earn a good living from income from safari camps which pay bednight fees to communities and give employment to many community members. I was told recently by a Maasai elder in the Mara area "Thank God for tourism, it is giving us an income and tourism does not depend on rainfall, like cows." I was contacted last week by the elders in a Maasai community area near Amboseli who already have a wildlife conservancy and they told me the community has agreed to set aside another part of their community land as a second wildlife conservancy since they wish to earn more income from tourism and create more jobs.

5. If potential tourists to Kenya are worried that it is inappropriate to go on vacation to a country where people are starving, then we need to make them realize that this is not a problem across the whole of Kenya and that in fact the best thing people can do to help, is to come to Kenya as tourists so that tourism continues to offer an alternative income to communities instead of being totally dependent on livestock.

6. With regard to wildlife being affected by the drought, the situation is that the animals are becoming concentrated near water and as all the national parks have water-holes there is actually a higher concentration of wildlife than normal to be seen inside the parks. Amboseli has a large number of elephants around the swamps at the present time and visitors are having wonderful wildlife viewing. In the Mara there are a number of permanent rivers and springs and again wildlife is concentrated along the rivers. As a result of the very dry conditions there is a lack of grazing and this will probably result in a few weaker herbivores dying but, sad as this is, it is a natural part of the cycle of life and once the rains come there will be many new young animals as the breeding season coincides with the rains. Visitors do not usually see sick animals as they are taken out quickly by the predators and carnivores which are not affected in the same way by lack of grazing. This is a natural cycle.

7. As far as reports about rampaging wild animals attacking farmers are concerned, these are greatly exaggerated. There will always be cases of "human-wildlife conflict" when there is a drought and wild animals are attracted to irrigated crops and to livestock watering-points on farms. This is not something new and extraordinary and it should be kept in perspective.

JustinaL is offline  
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 01:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 2,309
Here’s the perspective of a Maasai association:


Nyamera is offline  
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