The impact of ecotourism on livelihood and natural resource management in eselenkei, amboseli ecosystem, Kenya

Ogutu, Z. A., 2002. Land Degradation and Development

Original research (primary data)
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This paper presents the impact of ecotourism I on livelihood and natural resource management in the periphery of Amboseli Biosphere Reserve in Kenya. Ecotourism initiatives that have been introduced by Porini Ecotourism, a private investor, are benefiting Eselenkei Group Ranch in terms of income, improved infrastructure, employment opportunities and exposure. Over US$5000 is received annually as land rent, gate fee and bed charges. Twenty-six Maasai men are employed for the upkeep of project facilities. The community’s capacity to facilitate resource-related conflicts has improved following support from development institutions. An expanding livelihood base is reducing local vulnerability to disaster and people-wildlife conflicts. The numbers of resident wildlife species in the conservation area have increased due to regeneration of woody species and reduced frequency of livestock. Despite the achievements, ecotourism is threatened by cultivation. The latter is jeopardizing conservation efforts, as the area frequented by wildlife is being lost and people-wildlife conflicts intensified. Another dilemma is that the Eselenkei community is not effectively participating in ecotourism a situation that is associated with inadequate management and negotiation skills in the group ranch committee. The latter requires leadership and microenterprise management skills if earnings from ecotourism are to be effectively invested in alternative sources of livelihood, to reduce current and potential conflicts. There is also need to build the community’s capacity for the promotion of activities that compliment ecotourism. Frequent breakdown of community boreholes lead to dependence on the conservation area for water during prolonged drought, intensifying conflicts between livestock and wildlife.

Case studies

Basic information

  • Case ID: INT-114-1
  • Intervention type: Protection
  • Intervention description:

    lease agreement for 16ha of the Eselenkei Conservation Area (ECA) with a private developer for the Porini Ecotourism Project (PEP). The objective of PEP is to promote low tourism and wildlife conservation, and generate income and economic benefits for the community to avoid dependence on pastoralism alone and, reduce wildlife-related conflicts.

  • Landscape/sea scape ecosystem management: No
  • Climate change impacts Effect of Nbs on CCI Effect measures
    Loss of food production  Positive anecdotal "Eselenkei community is allowed to use grazing resources in the project site, especially during prolonged drought or following a breakdown of community boreholes. Access to the new water sources has reduced community vulnerability to drought-related disasters."
  • Approach implemented in the field: Yes
  • Specific location:

    Eselenkei group ranch is in the periphery of Amboseli Biosphere Reserve in Kajiado District of Kenya.

  • Country: Kenya
  • Habitat/Biome type: Tropical and subtropical grasslands |
  • Issue specific term: Community-based (general)


  • Notes on intervention effectivness: Evidence on effectiveness determined from interviews with participants/leaders of the project and community members (19 pastoralists, 8 agropastoralists, 2 community wildlife scouts, 3 wildlife officers and 3 government administrators and 3 women’s groups) Evidence for ecosystem mixed because although say "the numbers of wildlife (including charismatic species) in ECA have either remained stable or increased." they also say that poaching has increased in the area, including outside of the nature reserve, putting increased stress on wildlife from that front. Evidence for social effects is mixed because benefiting to several members of the community by providing new sources of income and capacity building for decision-making and program development skills. but there have been opportunity costs to some from loss of grazing land and has created some inequality between people employed/involved in the program and those who are not, or the revenue generated for the whole community is invested in projects that also generate inequality (e.g. into education/schools but the most poor don't send their children to school anyways)
  • Is the assessment original?: Yes
  • Broadtype of intervention considered: Not applicable
  • Compare effectivness?: No
  • Compared to the non-NBS approach: Not applicable
  • Report greenhouse gas mitigation?: No
  • Impacts on GHG: Not applicable
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on natural ecosystems: Yes
  • Impacts for the ecosystem: Mixed
  • Ecosystem measures: anecdotal statements about wildlife population size and poaching effects.
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on people: Yes
  • Impacts for people: Mixed
  • People measures: benefits to salaries and sale of ecosystem goods "More and more local people are complementing their sources of income with payments received as casual workers" ... "Individual households benefit from the sale of firewood and charcoal and the different foodstuffs that are sold at the camp" effects on equality between members of the community opportunity costs from loss of grazing lands capacity building
  • Considers economic costs: Yes
  • Economic appraisal conducted: No
  • Economic appraisal described:
  • Economic costs of alternative considered: No
  • Compared to an alternative: Not reported

Evaluation methodology

  • Type of data: Qualitative
  • Is it experimental: No
  • Experimental evalution done: Not applicable
  • Non-experimental evalution done: Empirical case study
  • Study is systematic: