Wildlife conservation awareness is not well known within local communities in Kenya despite the country having most of its wildlife living within the community.
Most of the local communities see wildlife as a source of income (having opportunities to sell their merchandise to the tourists) and tourists attraction, very few really have the connection with the wildlife.
Human-wildlife conflict has been a problem in the country and this maybe one of the reasons why those affected by it rarely treasure the wildlife. They see wildlife as a threat to their farms, lives and space. They have faced a lot of negative outcomes as a result of human-wildlife conflicts and thus have negative perception towards wildlife.
Most of the communities living within conservation areas invests in farms which are frequently attacked by the wildlife from time to time. This creates a strive between the farmers and Kenya Wildlife Services. In Kenya , for one to be compensated on such damages, it involves long tiring processes that mostly end up unfruitful. And as a result it has led to numerous demonstrations whereby the farmers threaten to take actions themselves and this means killing wildlife that trace passes their farms. This is a clear indication of created bridge between the local and the wildlife conservation organizations.
Conservation will only be successful once the communities understands and embrace the value of the wildlife. Once they understand that tourist attraction is not the only reason for conserving the wildlife. This will also help them refrain from land encroachment and poaching.
Majority of poaching in African countries are executed by the locals after being offered good tips by the big fish in the international market for illegal wildlife trafficking markets . So the local is made to choose between earning heavy bribery to poach or earn ” nothing” to protect wildlife.
We all agree that this is a tricky situation to a group of people who are inadequately informed on the importance of wildlife conservation and living in total poverty. How do you change their perception towards wildlife and make them embrace wildlife conservation positively? Answer to this question will be a strong background and foundation to the future of the wildlife species.
Most of the demonstrations held in defense for wildlife conservation issues is mostly fueled by the NGOs, students and the international bodies, which is an excellent , but true success will be fully attained once the local communities join the force. They are the backbone of wildlife conservation and have a strong pivot to it. They live along side the wildlife and interact frequently with them.
Local communities have been living with the wildlife for centuries and their co-existence has been positive, the problem is the external parties that are corrupting their minds and this is the greatest threat to wildlife survival. Its important we start by salvaging the local community support as we continue fighting for wildlife conservation and being their voice.
Africa has very unique wildlife but all these are dependent on the impact that will be created from their conservation and protection. Every journey starts with a step and together we can do a lot. Lets promote conservation awareness across the local communities, share the tourism benefits with the local and most importantly change their perception towards wildlife.