Wildlife damage and its impact on public attitudes towards conservation: A comparative study of Kenya and Botswana, with particular reference to Kenya's Laikipia Region and Botswana's Okavango Delta Region
Journal of Asian and African Studies
Moi University School of Law, PO Box 3900-30100, Eldoret, Kenya
While wildlife is a valuable natural resource with several beneficial values to the people of Kenya and Botswana, wild animals in both countries usually cause damage to society in terms of attacks on people and livestock, damage to crops and other property such as infrastructure, and disruption of peaceful existence in local communities living in close proximity to wildlife areas. Wildlife damage would ordinarily result in people having negative attitudes towards conservation. Interestingly, however, people's perceptions of wildlife in these countries seem to be diametrically different in that whereas public attitudes in Kenya are generally negative, in Botswana they are remarkably positive. This study set out to establish the reasons for this variance in conservation attitudes. It established that the major cause for this variance in perception is that while in Kenya wildlife conservation is more often thought of in terms of wildlife welfare and hardly in terms of human welfare, in Botswana human welfare concerns have been mainstreamed in conservation efforts. People have, for instance, been allowed to derive direct benefits from wildlife through consumptive utilization, unlike in Kenya where only indirect benefits through non-consumptive uses are permitted. These direct benefits seem to mitigate the effects of wildlife damage, especially the resultant negative attitudes of people towards wildlife. The present and future survival of wildlife in many parts of the world, and especially in African countries such as Kenya and Botswana, depends to a large measure on the goodwill of the people, particularly local communities, in their everyday contact with it. © The Author(s) 2010.
comparative study; natural resource; nature conservation; nature-society relations; perception; public attitude; survival; Kenya; Laikipia; Namibia; Okavango; Rift Valley; Animalia