Community-based wildlife conservation is promoted as a win-win solution for wildlife and people that protects biodiversity while improving the economic status of communities living among wildlife. This book, based on mixed-method anthropological research conducted in Samburu County, Kenya, demonstrates that, counter to simple narratives promising benefits, community-based wildlife conservancies (CBCs) are complex social institutions layered on pre-existing land use practices with differential impacts for members. Through in-depth research in three communities, Carolyn K. Lesorogol explains how diverse social actors understand and operate CBCs, how benefits and costs are distributed, the gendered nature of CBCs, and how they impact cooperation and conflict in communities. Lesorogol’s analysis shows that economic benefits to members are generally very limited, and while many perceive improvements in security emanating from CBCs, there is also evidence that they heighten tensions over land use as well as human-wildlife conflict. Looking toward the future, the book includes recommendations for improving the effectiveness and accountability of CBCs. Conservation and Community in Kenya: Milking the Elephant offers critical insights into the implications of the CBC model for local pastoralist livelihoods, conservation, and social relations.
Carolyn K. Lesorogol is professor at the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.
Chapter 1: From Livestock to Elephants: The Journey to CBCs
Chapter 2: How CBCs Work
Chapter 3: Does the Elephant Have Milk?
Chapter 4: Bead Work is Women’s Work: Gender and Conservation
Chapter 5: Working Together, or Not: Conflict and Cooperation in CBCs
Carolyn K. Lesorogol convincingly argues that the hope of successful community-based conservation lies not just in encouraging greater disbursement of funding but also the nurturing of the value of wildlife protection and pride in a conservation enterprise that is felt as ‘owned’ by the communities. Her work reflects two elements of scholarship: a systematic study using explicit methods, and an ethnographic study resting on her own background knowledge and her ear-to-the-ground exploration of what is actually happening below the surface. The result is a rich and valuable contribution to the literature on an important and globally significant experiment in trying to reconcile environmental protection and community livelihoods through the creation of community-based wildlife conservancies.