Sustainable Development and Wildlife Conservation in Tanzanian Maasailand

Author: Nelson, F.

Source: Environment, Development and Sustainability, Volume 2, Number 2, 2000 , pp. 107-117(11)

Publisher: Springer

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Many current wildlife conservation efforts in Africa focus on providing local communities with economic incentives to utilize wildlife as a form of land use in order to achieve the twin goals of ecological preservation as well as sustainable human economic development. Tanzanian Maasailand is home to some of the greatest concentrations of large mammals remaining outside National Parks and reserves, as well as a uniquely traditional human culture in the form of the Maasai themselves. Both are increasingly threatened by a variety of factors; poaching and habitat loss for wildlife, and the increasing marginalization of their pastoralist economy with regards to the Maasai. The fundamental cause of declining wildlife populations and biodiversity loss is that the Maasai have little economic or social interest in wildlife due to centralized management and financial benefits which are directed primarily to the Tanzanian state. Maasai pastoralism is highly compatible with wildlife, and the potential for the local communities to sustainably manage and benefit from this resource is promising. However, implementation of effective community-based natural resource management in the area faces political, cultural, and economic obstacles which will be critical in determining the outcomes of both conservation and community development efforts in Maasailand.

Keywords: Maasai; Tanzania; community conservation; wildlife conservation

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: West Kilimanjaro Project P.O. Box 8372, Arusha, Tanzania (E-mail:

Publication date: January 1, 2000

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