Samburu County

Samburu County

Ecotourism Resource


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The 'Samburu Wildlife and Communities' research area is located on the northern end of the Ewaso water shed, between the Ewaso Nyiro River and the Mathew's Range in eastern Samburu District of northern Kenya. The landscape contains one of the highest concentrations of unique threatened savannah species in Kenya. The systems represented in the area include semi-arid savannah mosaics of acacia-grasslands and acacia-commiphora scrublands, forests, the Ewaso Nyiro river watershed that drains from Mt. Kenya, and many elephant migration corridors. Of distinct wildlife interest in the region are the northern or arid-land specialist species, including the endangered Grevy's zebra, reticulated giraffes, African wild dogs, lions, cheetahs, hyenas, leopards, oryx and gerenuks, among others.

The landscape is also home to the Samburu people, a pastoral culture that has coexisted cattle with wildlife for centuries. Other ethnic groups include the Turkana and Rendille.

Millions of years of evolution have shaped natural communities, species and gene pools to produce the biodiversity we experience today. Biodiversity underpins two important industries in semi-arid Kenya: the pastoral economy and wildlife-based tourism. Saving biodiversity in pastoral land presents the great challenge of balancing livestock productivity necessary for a growing human population with conservation. Current challenges to managing this landscape in a way that will sustain lifestyles, culture and wildlife include growing population density, burning, poaching and overstocking livestock, as well as other threats.

Earthwatch Institute is working closely with communities, ranchers, non-government organizations and government departments to develop conservation and management strategies for this region. As a first step, three workshops were held involving communities, other stakeholders and scientists, during which we identified 11 priority research fields. This has led to four new projects in addition to earlier ones on Grevy's zebras.

Samburu Wildlife and Communities currently includes three research projects. The Grevy's Zebras project aims to contribute towards the conservation of viable populations of Grevy's zebras in the Samburu landscape. The other two projects were developed while moving towards more applied research addressing the ecosystem integrity and community livelihoods. Carnivores in Conflict aims to understand carnivore ecology in order to develop a conservation program for carnivores while also addressing the issue of human-wildlife conflict critical to the sustainability of community livelihoods.


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