Kenya – An environmental balance

Located in an eastern region of Africa, Kenya has an area of 244,080 square miles, and it borders Somalia, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania. The country has 44 million permanent residents, yet Kenya only has a population density of 174 people per square mile.

Since Kenya became an independent nation in December 1964, thousands of guests from the United States, European nations and Australia have visited the country every year in order to engage in ecotourism. The number of tours in Kenya is continuing to increase that ecotourism has become a major focus for the country. In fact, Kenya is now such a driving force behind ecotourism that they recently hosted the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference in September 2013.

Ecotourism was officially categorized as a style of tourism in the 1980s, and this type of travel involves visiting pristine areas of a country that have been relatively undisturbed by humans.

This style of exploration is designed to educate each guest about the natural habitat that the individual is visiting and to teach the traveller about the people who live in the area.

Additionally, ecotourism stimulates the economies of local villages, and a percentage of the funds that the travel agency receives from each visitor is used for non-profit, conservation projects.

In order to engage in ecotourism, operators need to take into a number of considerations when visiting tourist hot-spots:

The Climate

Due to its location on the equator, some parts of the country have a tropical climate, and other regions of Kenya have a temperate climate or an arid climate. During all of the seasons, the average temperature in the nation is 28 degrees Celsius.

In this region of Africa, the dry season begins during the sixth month of the year and ends in the ninth month, and as a result, 75 percent of tourists visit Kenya between July and October. This of course means that there is a greater demand on electricity and cooling that will be needed during this time. Due to this, considering how power is generated, whether through renewable sources or not, should be given consideration.

Popular tourist attractions

Popular tourist attractions like Mount Kenya, the second-highest mountain in Africa after Kilimanjaro, need to be given particular care, especially with the large influx of tourists. It’s understandable when you see that Mount Kenya attracted 16,000 climbers from foreign nations in 2012.

In April 1978, the government created Mount Kenya National Park, which occupies an area of 276 square miles around the mountain, which afford the area a certain level of protection.

Nairobi has more than 3.1 million inhabitants and is the capital of Kenya, but by traveling just four miles south of the city, a tourist can enter Nairobi National Park.

Guests who want to engage in ecotourism usually start their journeys in Nairobi because the country’s major airports are located in the city; This makes Nairobi a perfect location to introduce new ways of thinking when it comes to ecotourism. Additionally, the majority of travel agencies have offices in Nairobi, and countless types of supplies for a safari can be purchased at the thousands of shops that are located within the urban area. The most popular types of business here are those that offer ecotourism to visitors.

The natural fauna and flora

According to a report that was recently released by Kenya’s government, the five types of animals that attract the most tourists to the country are the lion, the leopard, the buffalo, the rhinoceros and the elephant. This is somewhat unsurprising as collectively these animals are known as the Big Five. The Big Five are a huge drive for ecotourism and are the main attraction that local safari operators have to offer, which naturally results in efforts towards protecting the animals and the environment they reside in.

The Migrations of various animals are also an event that many tourists want to experience and helps to promote the importance of ecotourism. Since 1961, thousands of visitors have participated in Kenyan tours in the Maasai Mara National Preserve every year to witness the migration of gazelles into the area.

These animals come to the region during early July in order to find water, trees and fresh vegetation to eat, and they migrate from the vast plains and mountainous areas that are located to the north of the preserve and in Tanzania.

Preventing Deforestation

In 1963, 10 percent of Kenya’s land was forested, but by 2006, only 1.7 percent of Kenya had woodlands of any type. According to a new study, 35 percent of the deforested areas have become arid and on average, loggers only plant one new tree for every 28 trees that are cut down.

One study indicated that forested areas that are visited by tourists at least 10 times per year are 80 percent less likely to be targeted by loggers who are operating illegally in the country.

In October 1999, the government of Kenya passed a bill that banned logging in most parts of the nation. However, it’s evident that in order to really make a difference to logging, the local people need to be able to set up tourism businesses that rely on the forests of Kenya. By tying the economic fate of the local villages to the fate of the local forests, there will be a greater incentive to protect the natural areas in order to be able to financially benefit from ecotourism.

Ultimately Kenya has an opportunity to become one of the global leaders in ecotourism of which they have already put a large amount of effort into. Small steps taken by the government in conjunction with local businesses ultimately prove to be the most beneficial tactic to both Kenya and its people in solidifying the countries place as an ecotourism leader.

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