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Kenya Tourism and Elephants (KENYA Case)



CASE NAME: Kenya Elephant and Tourists

I. Identification

1. The Issue

The tourist industry provides Kenya with approximately 192 million dollars a year and accounts for the bulk of its foreign exchange reserves, but at the same time, this "tourism trade" has a negative impact on the fragile ecology of the parks, such as disruption of animal feeding and breeding, and pollution created by tourist minibuses, to name only a few. Kenyans face the dilemma of attracting foreign exchange revenue through tourism or maintaining a sound ecosystem by keeping the amount of tourists at a sustainable level. Moreover, some argue that tourism protects the environment.

2. Description

The implications of tourism on the ecosystem of national parks in Kenya are numerous. Tourists in remote areas usually disturb animal patterns by their very presence and introduce viruses and bacteria unknown to local fauna. The construction necessary to support a tourist trade, hotels, highways, power supply lines and power stations, seriously damage the topography of the area adjacent to the parks. The single most threat to the environment is the very nature of tourism in the parks. Safaris exact a heavy toll on the balance of the ecosystem. Tourist buses carelessly chase over the grasslands in the hunt for good close-up photographs and thus ruin the main feedstock of the animals. Tourists are also producers of refuse which is often deposited at a distant place from the hotels and the sewage is usually untreated and led into the sea. Another aspect of the negative impact that tourism has on the environment is the stress on natural resources like drinking water, land and marine ecology In conclusion, the tourist consumption of nature leads to the economic exploitation of landscape and finally to the destruction of the environment.

National parks are meant to accommodate large numbers of tourists as well as protecting the environment. Parks have entrance fees which are reinvested in maintenance and preservation of the fauna and of the animals. Thus, the two principles that underlie the creation of the parks (protection of the wildlife and attraction of foreign tourists) seem to reconcile tourism with the environment. However, the reality is bleaker: despite the protection measures in the game parks, the number of elephants and rhinos diminished dramatically in Kenya, by 70% and 90% respectively within one decade (Bachmann: 121). Thanks to world-wide alarm and Kenya's fear of publicity in the tourist industry, the Kenyan government took stiff measures, such as trophy bans, and hunting bans so as to reverse this decline. Though the elephant population has recovered remarkably, the number of rhinos is still very small.

The impact of tourism on the environment has been widely publicized this last decade. However, much less is known regarding the precise impact of tourism on elephants. However, one can assume that if -tourism has little impact on elephants, the latter have tremendous impact on tourism. The case of Kenya gives us an interesting perspective on how tourism might preserve the life of elephants. CITES was signed by Kenya and other African countries to halt international trade in elephant products, including ivory and meat. Lately, 6 Southern African countries (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Malawi and Namibia) called for the resumption of a legal ivory trade (Concar and Cole: 33). They proposed to down list their elephant population from Appendix 1 (endangere>

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ould allow them to trade ivory again. Their argument is that they have a stable or increasing elephant population that is not endangered and they should be allowed to benefit from the revenues from selling ivory and hides. These countries deem trading elephant products more lucrative than tourism. Kenya strongly opposed this proposal on the grounds that it would encourage poaching and thus deter tourists from entering the country (Moss: 50).

A living elephant in Kenya is worth $14,375 in income from tourists for every year of its life, and elephant-related tourism brings about $200 million each year. It is estimated that the ivory from an average elephant is worth about $1000. It is interesting to observe that tourism in Africa (often criticized for its disrupting impact on the environment) is the major cause of elephant survival. However, the elephant dilemma is not that easy to solve. For instance, Zimbabwe's culling programs are seen as essential for the running of its protected areas since the revenue from hunting elephants is allocated to the parks.

However, the revenues drawn from tourism are also reinvested in wildlife preservation, which raises the issue whether culling (the practice supposedly used to keep the population of the animals at a manageable level) will generate more revenues (through meat and skin exports) than tourism. It is interesting to note that culling activities are allegedly performed for ecological balance purposes. In both cases, it seems that African countries, especially Kenya, are asking for external financial assistance to cover the costs of keeping elephants alive.

The Masai, a tribe in Kenya, also complain that elephants destroy their crops and kill their cattle and therefore, they do not see any incentive to protect the elephants. Overpopulation is H S another major concern: population growth is incompatible with elephant growth since the habitat loss generated by this trend puts pressure on resources (more space is allocated to accommodate the elephant growth). The Kenyan authorities seem more willing to protect elephants to attract tourists rather than acknowledge that the future of elephants depend on the people who share the land with the elephants. Some wildlife authorities in Africa believe that the only way to save endangered species is to make them valuable to local communities.

3. Related Cases








4. Draft Author:

Francois Lenfant

II. Legal Clusters

5. Discourse and Status:

There has been little disagreement over the fact that tourism is badly needed to earn foreign exchange especially when the country is implementing a structural adjustment program. Even local tribes find an incentive ln tourism since 25% of the money generated by park entrances, most common tourist destinations, are reinvested in the community that "cohabits" with the elephants. However, there core environmentalists who might actually call for a decrease in tourism for ecological purposes, since tourism can damage and even destroy natural habitats and ecosystems, and thus threaten the future of wild animals and plants. Experts also disagree with regard to the viability of mechanisms that would limit tourist access to national parks.

6. Forum and Scope:


No limitation or restriction of tourist is likely to be implemented in Kenya. On the contrary, Kenya is attracting tourists through hiring rangers to ensure their security, and improving tile quality of the parks. However CITES, which is linked to the tourist trade is a treaty that involves numerous countries.

7. Decision Breadth:


8. Legal Standing:


III. Geographic Clusters

9. Geographic Locations

The geographic domain of this case is limited to national parks in Kenya, such as the Tsavo national park, where tourists have the chance to meet elephants.

a. Geographic Domain: AFRICA

b. Geographic Site: Eastern Africa

c. Geographic Impact: Kenya

10. Sub-National Factors:


11. Type of Habitat:


IV. Trade Clusters

12. Type of Measure:

Regulatory Standards [REGSTD]

It is extremely difficult and economically unviable to impose a ban on tourism. However, certain measures such as education programs to raise tourists' awareness regarding the ecosystem might be helpful. Increasing the number of park rangers to enforce strict park regulations is also an option. Ecotourism, which is fashionable nowadays does not fully guarantee the protection of the environment and might decrease drastically the number of tourists in Kenya.

13. Direct v. Indirect Impacts:


Increasing tourists' awareness towards safeguarding the life of elephants through appropriate behavior will have a direct impact on the environment. However, if the environmental legislation is to heavy, it will decrease the number of tourists and thus impact negatively on the country's foreign exchange earnings.

14. Relation of Trade Measure to Environmental Impact

a. Directly Related to Product: YES, Tourism

b. Indirectly Related to Product: NO

c. Not Related to Product: NO

d. Related to Process: YES Species Loss Land [SPLL]

15. Trade Product Identification:


16. Economic Data

Kenyan tourism industry output is 19% of GDP and service account for 54% of Kenya's GDP.

17. Impact of Trade Restriction:


Increasing park entrance fees would have a low impact on the number of tourists since the latter are wealthy and very eager to see the wildlife.

18. Industry Sector:


19. Exporters and Importers:

Case Exporters: Many Case Importer: Kenya Leading Exporters: Western Europe and the US

V. Environment Clusters

20. Environmental Problem Type:

Species Loss Land [SPLL]

21. Name, Type, and Diversity of Species

Elephants. The Tsavo National Park was once home to 35,000 elephants in the 1970's. The herds amounted to 4,300 in 1988.

22. Resource Impact and Effect:

HIGH and 20 years

23. Urgency of Problem:


It is estimated that elephant population in Africa has decreased from 1.3 million in 1989 to 700,000 in 1989. However, once again, the major cause of the decline has been the ivory trade and not tourism. Nevertheless South Africa and Zimbabwe have different opinions on that matter. They claim that their elephant population is growing and therefore are actively pursuing a lifting of the ivory ban.

24. Substitutes:

Eco-tourism [ECOTR]

VI. Other Factors

25. Culture:


It is crucial for the conservation of elephants that a balance is found between tourism, wildlife and the Masai culture. So far, Masal people have had no incentive in preserving elephants' lives since they see elephants as nuisances that destroy their crops and eat their cattle. However, Richard Leakey, who has been appointed by Kenyan president Daniel Arap Moi director of the Kenya Wildlife Service in 1989, has initiated a program that designates a portion of entrance fees collected in Kenya's game parks for local populations. Since then, herds are growing and tourism is flourishing.

26. Trans-Boundary Issues:


27. Rights:


28. Relevant Literature

Bale, John and David Drakakis-Smith, Tourism and Development in the Third World, Routledge, 1988.

Bachmann, Philipp, Tourism in Kenya. P. Basic Need for Whoms, European University Studies, Peter Lang Publishers, Inc., Berne 1988.

Bonner, Raymond, "The Hype is as High Asian Elephant's Eve", True Independent, April 10, 1993, p 27.

Curphey Marianne, "Green Call to Operators", The Times, November 17, 1994, p. 57.

Clover, Charles, "African Elephants dying Despite Ban on Ivory Trade". The Daily Telegraph, January 21, 1995.

Concar David and Mary Cole, "Conservation and the Ivory Tower", pp 29-33.

Greanville David Patrice, "Conservation: Is Tourism the Solution?", The Animal's Agenda, October 1989.

Moss Cynthia, "Tourists to the Rescue", New Scientist, February 9, 1992, pp 49-50.

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