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Western paradigms and values have dominated the management and conservation practice in Kenya for several decades. This book critiques the amount of resources devoted to promoting extrinsic values, like tourism while ignoring or actively suppressing indigenous ecosystem values. This also touches on the seldom-visited question of racial prejudices in the Kenyan conservation sector, which alienate indigenous peoples – the most important partners in conservation. This book confronts the historical, political and ethical challenges currently facing conservation practice in Kenya through the insights of two individuals who have observed it from completely different perspectives.
John Mbaria is a trained spatial planner and an award-winning Kenyan journalist who has investigated and written on wildlife conservation since August 2000. Mbaria started off as a physical planner before detouring to journalism. He has written for several national newspapers in Kenya – the Daily Nation and The EastAfrican – and was an occasional contributor for the Greenpeace Magazine of Germany, as well as a visiting writer with InvestigateWest, a US-based online investigative journal.
Mordecai Ogada is a carnivore ecologist who has been involved in conservation work for the last sixteen years in Kenya and other parts of Africa, mainly in human-wildlife conflict mitigation and carnivore conservation. His biological work includes studies on lions, hyenas, cheetah, African wild dogs, and otters. Dr. Ogada's professional work has included research and teaching conservation leadership at Colorado State University. Much of his energy has been devoted to the area of community-based conservation, wildlife policy, and wetlands ecology. From 2009 to 2011 Dr. Ogada developed cheetah conservation strategies for Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Uganda as the regional coordinator for the WCS cheetah conservation program. He was the Executive Director of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum from 2011 to 2014, where his work focused on the perceptions of conservation and how these influence communities and practitioners in the field of natural resource management.
In 2015, Dr. Ogada coordinated a partnership project between the African Conservation Centre and McGill University that seeks to strengthen conservation linkages between institutions and habitats in Kenya and northern Tanzania. He is also a co-author of a chapter on the management of wildlife and fisheries in Kenya in the book Developments in Earth Surface Processes (Vol 16) published by Elsevier, Netherlands, as well as several articles on conservation. Mordecai lives in Nanyuki, Kenya, where he works as a consultant on wildlife and natural resource conservation.
"This is, arguably, the bravest book to come out of Kenya in this decade. Here is a team of local minds that dares to turn our conservation model on its head with probing questions. The writers interrogate the research that dictates policies on culling and cropping, pointing to the silent drivers and beneficiaries of these dangerous findings. John Mbaria and Mordecai Ogada have taken on giants with big funding, guns and deep international networks. And they have the skills and the ingenuity to suggest new models of conservation that will benefit our wildlife and transform the way we do tourism."
– Dr Joyce Nyairom, author of Kenya@50: Trends, Identities and the Politics of Belonging