Gender Differentials and Sustainable Wildlife Ecosystem: A Case of Selected Conservancies in Maasai Mara, Narok County, Kenya.
Karoki Mercyjoy Mugambi
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This study aimed at assessing the gender differentials and sustainable wildlife ecosystem in selected conservancies in Maasai Mara, Narok County, Kenya with an aim of coming up with the best strategies to enhance gender responsive and sustainable wildlife ecosystem. The study was guided by the following objectives: Establishing prevalence of men and women in wildlife management and conservation institutions in selected conservancies in Maasai Mara ecosystem, examining the socio-cultural factors influencing sustainable wildlife ecosystem and the distribution of income from Payment for ecosystem among men and women in the conservancies under study. The study was guided by feminist political ecology theory which demonstrates that gender is an important element in influencing access to resources, knowledge, and control over natural resources. The study used descriptive survey research design and mixed method research approach whose combination of qualitative and quantitative approaches provides a better understanding of the problem than neither approach can achieve alone. Research was conducted in four wildlife conservancies in Maasai Mara ecosystem namely: Nashulai, Pardamat conservation area (PCA), Olkinyei and Enoonkishu. Purposive, simple random and proportionate sampling were used to select the respondents, informants and participants from which a sample of 167 was drawn. Questionnaires were used to collect data from the wildlife managers whereas focused group discussions were used to collect data from adult men and women landowners in the conservancies. In-depth interviews were used to collect data from scouts and rangers. Reliability of the instruments was tested using test-retest and Cronbach‟s Alpha co-efficient was used to determine the internal consistency of the instruments which was 0.70 hence acceptable. The data collected quantitatively was analyzed using descriptive statistics such as mean, frequencies and standard deviation. The findings were presented using percentages, graphs and tables. Qualitative data was analyzed continuously at the onset of the field work to establish patterns, categories and themes. The responses were integrated into the themes using narratives and verbatim reports. The findings showed that gender differentials exist in wildlife management and conservation institutions. Women were underrepresented as wildlife managers, landowners and rangers. The findings further revealed that women benefited less from payment for ecosystem income in conservancies. In addition, cultural norms, landownership and gender roles were revealed as the key factors that impacted on the wildlife ecosystem. The study also found out that the gender differentials aforementioned impacted both positively and negatively on the Maasai Mara wildlife ecosystem. The study recommends that the wildlife stakeholders should employ gender advocacy and empowerment programmes to facilitate gender equity and sustainable wildlife ecosystems. The study also recommends redistribution of payment for ecosystem income so as to ensure women also get a fair share of the income. Further, the study recommends that government and non-governmental institutions focusing on wildlife conservation should embrace culturally appropriate strategies to tackle the problem of wildlife habitat destruction focusing on the root cause rather than military approach.