News release: Why green tourism can save Kenya's magnificent elephants...and give a pay boost to the country's Massai warriors

Media and Promotion Office (2001) News release: Why green tourism can save Kenya's magnificent elephants...and give a pay boost to the country's Massai warriors. Other. University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Preston.

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Issued by: Alan Air
Press Officer
University of Central Lancashire
University lecturer hopes (or harmony between wildlife and Man in
KENYA'S population of wild elephants- and the Massa! people who used to live in harmony
alongside them - face a much brighter future if they choose ecotourism over cultivation.
That's the message Dr Chris Southgate, a senior lecturer in environmental management at the
University of Central Lancashire, is taking to Massailand where he is building a new field
centre for research into ccotourism.
Dr Southgate fears that the traditional Massa! way of life - tending cattle in the semi-arid lands
overshadowed by Mount Kilimanjaro -could vanish within a generation, along with much of the
wildlife that lives there.
Increasingly, Massai warriors are forsaking their time-honoured way of life to grow relatively
lucrative food crops like onions and tomatoes to sell in the country's large markets.
Unfortwiatcly, 70 per cent of' Africa's distinctive wildlife shares the same land -outside the
national parks where they arc protected - and elephants, giraffes and zebras are losing out in
the inevitable clashes with Man.
Dr Southgate said: "In the past the Massai lived in harmony with the wildlife. They tended herds of cattle and during the day took them to the traditional watering holes and springs.
''These were used by the wildlife at night and there was no conflict of interest."
However, the situation is now changing rapidly, said Dr Southgate, who has been assessing the
threats posed by environmental developments in Massailand for the last eight years.
"More and more of the Massai people arc irrigating the land to grow lucrative cash crops and
this is putting enormous pressure on the watering holes, many of which arc drying up," he said.
"Increasingly, wild animals that have relied on them are wandering into agriculture areas to
search for water. In the r esulting conflict they are losing out and being killed. This never
happened before. "
Dr Southgate, who has just launched a new degree in ccotourism at the University of Central
Lancashire, Preston, warned that killing elephants was bad economics.
"The Massai people could a ctually earn five times as much (per acre) from sustainable
ecotourism than from growing cash crops," he said.
"As the human population increases there needs to be much more strategic awareness of the
halaucc needed between agriculture, tourism and the traclitional way of life in Massailand.
"In the past tourism has been viewed - often quite rightly - as enviromnentally destructive. But if
the right structures can be put in place the Massai people can benefit directly from \Vestern
ccotonrism - lmt only if the wildlife that people want to see is still there."
Dr Southgate is currently trying to raise £25,000 to huild a new research centre in Massailand.
It will be used to provide educational training for local Massai as well as students from the
University of Central Lancashire and schools throughout Britain on educational field trips.
Notes to editors:
• Dr Southgate is available for interview and/or photograph. He can be contacted at the
Univer sity of Central Lancashire on Tel: 01772 201201.
• Please contact Alan Air on Mobile: 07974 765870 for further details.

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