John Tyman's
Cultures in Context Series
Studies of the Maasai, the Luhya, and Nairobi's Urban Fringe
2. Environmental Considerations    009-012

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009. Kenya also faces environmental challenges, for much of its land is unsuited to agriculture. It is bisected by the equator but has a lower annual rainfall than most equatorial lands. Eighty per cent of its area is arid or semi-arid, and only 7% is cropped. The greater bulk of the country is grazed by livestock that travel great distances in search of enough food and water to survive. The grass is green after rain, but soon dries up and the animals move on. (Borana herders whose lands lie east of the Samburu.)
010. The best areas for food production are in the highlands, most of which were forested originally. Areas with moderate amounts of rain were (and in many cases still are) covered by tropical savannah: but half the country is desert. During a severe drought in 2007 Kenya’s pastoralists lost half their herds, and the Meat Commission was unable to purchase the vast number of animals herders tried to sell because there was no feed for them.
011. The vast herds of grazing animals which once roamed the savannahs of East Africa have been reduced in number, but many of them remain. Their presence conflicts locally with agricultural and pastoral interests. In northern Kenya, for example, herders typically lose 5% or more of their stock to predators: and much grazing land has also been reserved for wildlife parks. (Zebra and kongoni grazing near Nairobi.)
012. The tourist industry is so important that all wild animals are protected: but since the benefits of tourism are concentrated in the hands of a small minority, few people are inclined to risk their lives to stop the poaching of ivory and rhinoceros horn.


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