Land use change in Maasailand drivers, dynamics and impacts on largeherbivores and agro-pastoralism
Msoffe, Fortunata Urban
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The Maasailand of Kenya and Tanzania supports one of the richest wildlife populations remaining on Earth. However, over the last century, Maasailand has experienced land transformation notably through conversion of former rangelands to croplands. With the anticipated human population increase in East Africa, more impacts should be envisaged on these rangelands. This thesis investigates the root causes and underlying drivers of land-use change in the Maasai-Steppe ecosystems, stemming from historical, socio-cultural, political as well as the biophysical conditions. To analyse the different drivers of change, an integrated methodological approach was employed. This included a collation of historical data and information derived from both gray and published literature, analysis of remote sensing and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) data, field surveys, workshops, observations, as well as personal communications. Observed land-use change from savannah rangelands to expansive croplands are mainly linked to government policies, land tenure, human population growth (which is also likely to be the largest future driver) and climatic conditions. Consequently these changes have impacted the agro-pastoralist community, whose main incomes for their livelihoods depend on pastoralism. Subsequent loss of formerly communal grazing lands to establish protected areas; large-scale farming and/or private ranches have aggravated the problems of sedentarization due to villagization and privatization policies of the formally mobile agro-pastoral communities. Land-use change also had negative impacts on migratory wildlife species, particularly those utilizing both protected areas and dispersal ranges in communal and/or private lands. The impacts ranged from loss of their migratory routes and corridors to massive declines of populations due to the loss of access to grazing resources. The study recommends government’s interventions for keeping the land open for access to grazing resources as well as opening up wildlife corridors, where it is deemed necessary for national interests.