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Some researchers think that without free movement of the cattle, and the Maasai, both the 'conserved' areas and the areas used by the Maasai suffer, and that it would be better to allow the Maasai to roam over all their traditional lands. In the traditional system, the animals and humans have co-existed successfully for a very long time, which is evidence of symbiosis.


With the protection of the wild animals, their numbers may become unbalanced. Wildebeest numbers, for example, traditionally fluctuated greatly over the years, depending on the rains, and other factors, some known, some unknown. Because tourists who come to see the migration expect huge herds, park officers have supplied veterinary medicine, salt licks and other things which keep the numbers high. But the variation in numbers without this aid may have a purpose in allowing land to recover, or other animals to get their share. Constant high wildebeest numbers may have an adverse effect overall and damage conservation in the long term, even if it supports tourism income in the short term.


Different animals use the same area in different ways, and it may be that the variation within a year, and over the years, has reached a good equilibrium, which the conservation system destroys. The degradation of the poor lands by taking the very best areas for the conservation zones, and forcing the Maasai to use the weaker areas to and beyond their limits, may have a negative effect also on the good zones.


Some 'conservation' officials apparently argue that although there is no biological reason for excluding pastoralists from their conserved areas, 'tourists don't want to see them'. Many visitors, maybe because of Attenborough TV programmes or National Geographic, think these African landscapes are people-free. This is the worst possible argument for denying the Maasai their traditional relationship with the Kenyan and Tanzanian savannah.

Maasai 4/11: Pastoralism - in favour