Human Ecology

, Volume 40, Issue 3, pp 415–425 | Cite as

Unexpected Consequences: Wildlife Conservation and Territorial Conflict in Northern Kenya

  • Clemens Greiner


This article is concerned with the implementation of community-based conservancies (CBC) in conflict-ridden pastoralist areas of northern Kenya and whether the creation of protected areas can facilitate the resolution of conflict. Evidence from ethnographic research in East Pokot, Kenya, reveals a mixed picture. In the last decade, three CBCs were established along the administrative borders. Two of them are located in contested areas between the Pokot and neighboring pastoralists. In order to ensure their long-term success in terms of wildlife conservation and economic viability they must act as catalysts for inter-ethnic conflict resolution. In one case, the implementation proved successful, while in the other it exacerbated tensions and led to ethnic violence. In addition, issues of conservation are also embedded in deeper intra-societal struggles over the reconfiguration and renegotiation of access to and control over land. Drawing on ethnographic data and recent literature this research sheds light on unexpected consequences of CBC.


Conservation Interethnic violence Land tenure Pastoralism Political ecology Kenya 



I am indebted to Michael Bollig and the participants of the Forschungswerkstatt at Institute of Cultural and Social Anthropology, University of Cologne, for helpful comments on a draft version of this article. My thanks also go to Daniel Bates and two anonymous reviewers, whose comments greatly helped to improve this article.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Cultural and Social AnthropologyUniversity of CologneCologneGermany

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