Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2012, Vol. 4 Issue (1): 29-35    DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1227.2012.00029
Research Articles     
Impacts of livestock grazing on a savanna grassland in Kenya
John KIOKO1, John Warui KIRINGE1, Simon Ole SENO2
1 The School for Field Studies, Center for Wildlife Management Studies, Nairobi 27743 – 00506, Kenya;
2 School of Natural Resources Management, Narok University College, Narok 861–20500, Kenya
Download:   PDF(662KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      

Abstract  The dynamics of most rangelands in Kenya remain to be poorly understood. This paper provides baseline information on the response of a semiarid rangeland under different livestock grazing regimes on land inhabited by the Massai people in the east side of Amboseli National Park in Kenya. The data were collected from grasslands designated into four types: (1) grassland from previous Massai settlements that had been abandoned for over twenty years; (2) grassland excluded from livestock grazing for eight years; (3) a dry season grazing area; and (4) a continuous grazing area where grazing occurred throughout all seasons. Collected data included grass species composition, grass height, inter-tuft distance, standing grass biomass and soil characteristics. The results indicated that continuous grazing area in semiarid rangelands exhibited loss of vegetation with negative, long-term effects on grass functional qualities and forage production, whereas grassland that used traditional Maasai grazing methods showed efficiency and desirable effects on the rangelands. The results also showed that abandoned homestead sites, though degraded, were important nutrient reservoirs.

Key wordsfriction velocity      sand transport flux      Taklimakan Desert     
Received: 23 June 2011      Published: 05 March 2012

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service and Cleveland MetroPark Zoo.

Corresponding Authors: John KIOKO     E-mail:
Cite this article:

John KIOKO, John Warui KIRINGE, Simon Ole SENO. Impacts of livestock grazing on a savanna grassland in Kenya. Journal of Arid Land, 2012, 4(1): 29-35.

URL:     OR

Allen R B, Wilson J B, Mason C R. 1995. Vegetation change following exclusion of grazing animals in depleted grassland, Central Otago, New Zealand. Journal of Vegetation Science, 6(5): 615–626.

Augustine D J. 2003. Long-term, livestock-mediated redistribution of nitrogen and phosphorus in an East African savanna. Journal of Applied Ecology, 40(1): 137–149.

Berger D J. 1993. Wildlife Extension: Participatory Conservation by the Maasai of Kenya. Nairobi: African Centre for Technology Studies (ACTS).

Berliner D, Kioko J. 2000. The effect of long-term mowing and ungulate exclusion on grass species composition and soil nutrient status on the Athi-Kapiti plains, central Kenya. African Journal of Range Forage Science, 16(2–3): 62–70.

Botha J O. 1999. A resource management plan for the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in the Meru District of the central highlands of Kenya. MSc. Thesis South Africa: University of Pretoria.

Bransby D, TaintonN M. 1977. The disc pasture meter: possible implication in grazing management. Proceedings of Grassland Society of South Africa, 12: 115–118.

Burnsilver S, Mwangi E. 2007. Beyond group ranch subdivision: collective action for livestock mobility, ecological viability, and livelihoods. Washington DC: International Food Policy Research Institute.

Campbell D, Gichohi H, Mwangi A, et al. 2000. Land use conflict in Kajiado District, Kenya. Land use Policy, 17: 337–348.

Galt D, Molinar F, Navarro J, et al. 2000. Grazing capacity and stocking rate. Rangelands, 22(6): 7–11.

Graham O. 1989. A land divided: the impact of ranching on a pastoral society. Ecologist, 19 (5): 184–185.

He N P, Zhang Y H, Yu Q, et al. 2011. Grazing intensity impacts soil carbon and nitrogen storage of continental steppe. Ecosphere, 2(1): 1–10.

Katampoi K, Genga G, Mwangi M, et al. 1990. Kajiado District Atlas. Kajiado: ASAL Programme.

Marrs R H, Rizand A, Harrison A F. 1989. The effects of removing sheep grazing on soil chemistry, above-ground nutrient distribution, and selected aspects of soil fertility in long-term experiments at Moor House National Nature Reserve. Journal of Applied Ecology, 26(2): 647–661.

McIntosh P D, Allen R B. 1998. Effect of enclosure on soils, biomass, plant nutrients, and vegetation, on unfertilized steep lands, upper Waitaki District, South Island, New Zealand. Journal of Ecology, 22(2): 209–217.

Mentis M S. 1981. Evaluation of the wheel-point and step-point methods of veld condition assessment. Proceedings of Grassland Society of South Africa, 16: 89–94.

Milton S J, Dean W R J, Du Plessis M A, et al. 1994. A conceptual model of arid rangeland degradation. Bioscience, 44(2): 707–718.

Morgan R P C. 1995. Soil Erosion and Conservation, 2nd ed. Essex: Longman Group.

Muchiru A, Western D, Reid R S. 2003. The role of abandoned settlements in restructuring plant and wildlife communities, Amboseli Kenya. In: Allsopp N, Palmer A R, Milton S J, et al. Proceedings of the VIIth International Rangeland Congress, Durban, South Africa, July 26–August 1. South Africa: Document Transformation Technologies.

Musembi D K. 1986. The seasonal climate of rangelands. In: Hansen R M, Woie B M, Child R D. Range Development and Research in Kenya. Proceedings of a Conference, Agricultural Resource Center, Edgerton College, Njoro, Kenya, April 1–5, 1986. Morrilton: Winrock International Institute for Agriculture Development.

Neary D G, Klopatek C C, DeBano L F, et al. 1999. Fire effects on below ground sustainability: a review and synthesis. Forest Ecology Management, 122(1–2): 51–71.

Oba G, Post E, Syvertssen P O, et al. 2000. Bush cover and range condition assessments in relation to landscape and grazing in southern Ethiopia. Landscape Ecology, 15(6): 535–546.

O’Connor T G, Pickett G A. 1992. The effects of grazing history on the herbaceous composition: population structure and seed banks of some African savanna grasslands. Journal of Applied Ecology, 29(1): 247–260.

Oluwole F A, Sikhalazo D. 2008. Land degradation in a reserve in Eastern Cape of South Africa: soil properties and vegetation cover. Scientific Research and Essay, 3(3): 111–119.

Oudtshoorn F V. 1992. Guide to Grasses of South Africa. Pretoria: Briza Publications.

Owen-Smith N. 1999. The animal factor in veld management: implications of selective patters of grazing. In: Tainton N D. Veld Management in South Africa. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 129–130.

Pratt D J, Gwynne M D. 1978. Rangeland Management and Ecology in East Africa. London: Hodder and Stoughton.

Robertson E. 1996. Impacts of Livestock Grazing on Soils and Recommendations for Management. California: California Native Plant Society.

Skarpe, C. 1992. Dynamics of savanna ecosystems. Journal of Vegetation Science 3(3): 293–300.

Trollope W S W. 1990. Development of a technique for assessing veld condition in the Kruger National Park using key grass species. Journal of Grassland Society of South Africa, 7(1): 46–51.

Trollope W S W, Trollope L A. 1999. Report of assessment of range condition and the fire of the savanna vegetation on the LEWA Downs Wildlife Conservancy, Kenya-1998. Alice: University of Fort Hare.

Western D, Wright R M. 1994. The background to community based conservation. In: Western D, Wright R M. Natural Connections: Perspectives in Community-based Conservation. Washington DC: Island Press, 1–14.

Westoby M B H, Walker, Noy-Meir I. 1989. Opportunistic management for rangelands not at equilibrium. Journal of Range Management, 42(4): 266–274.

Whalen J K, Willms W D, Dormaar J F. 2003. Soil carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in modified rangeland communities. Journal of Range Management, 56(6): 665–672.

Yeo J J. 2005. Effects of grazing exclusion on rangeland vegetation and soils, east central Idaho. Western North American Naturalist, 65(1): 91–102.
[1] Batjargal BUYANTOGTOKH, Yasunori KUROSAKI, Atsushi TSUNEKAWA, Mitsuru TSUBO, Batdelger GANTSETSEG, Amarsaikhan DAVAADORJ, Masahide ISHIZUKA, Tsuyoshi T SEKIYAMA, Taichu Y TANAKA, Takashi MAKI. Effect of stones on the sand saltation threshold during natural sand and dust storms in a stony desert in Tsogt-Ovoo in the Gobi Desert, Mongolia[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(7): 653-673.
[2] LI Congjuan, WANG Yongdong, LEI Jiaqiang, XU Xinwen, WANG Shijie, FAN Jinglong, LI Shengyu. Damage by wind-blown sand and its control measures along the Taklimakan Desert Highway in China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(1): 98-106.
[3] DONG Zhengwu, LI Shengyu, ZHAO Ying, LEI Jiaqiang, WANG Yongdong, LI Congjuan. Stable oxygen-hydrogen isotopes reveal water use strategies of Tamarix taklamakanensis in the Taklimakan Desert, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(1): 115-129.
[4] WANG Cui, LI Shengyu, LEI Jiaqiang, LI Zhinong, CHEN Jie. Effect of the W-beam central guardrails on wind-blown sand deposition on desert expressways in sandy regions[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2020, 12(1): 154-165.
[5] Jingxin LI, Shigong WANG, Jinhua CHU, Jiaxin WANG, Xu LI, Man YUE, Kezheng SHANG. Characteristics of air pollution events over Hotan Prefecture at the southwestern edge of Taklimakan Desert, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(5): 686-700.
[6] Minzhong WANG, Hu MING, Wen HUO, Hongxiong XU, Jiangang LI, Xingcai LI. Detecting sand-dust storms using a wind-profiling radar[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(5): 753-762.
[7] Fan YANG, Mamtimin ALI, Xinqian ZHENG, Qing HE, Xinghua YANG, Wen HUO, Fengchao LIANG, Shaoming WANG. Diurnal dynamics of soil respiration and the influencing factors for three land-cover types in the hinterland of the Taklimakan Desert, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2017, 9(4): 568-579.
[8] WANG Minzhong, WEI Wenshou, HE Qing, YANG Yuhui, FAN Lei, ZHANG Jiantao. Summer atmospheric boundary layer structure in the hinterland of Taklimakan Desert, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(6): 846-860.
[9] JIA Wenru, ZHANG Chunlai, LI Shengyu, WANG Haifeng, MA Xuexi, WANG Ningbo. Grain size distribution at four developmental stages of crescent dunes in the hinterland of the Taklimakan Desert, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(5): 722-733.
[10] XUE Jie, LEI Jiaqiang, LI Shengyu, GUI Dongwei, MAO Donglei, ZHOU Jie. Re-evaluating the vertical mass-flux profiles of aeolian sediment at the southern fringe of the Taklimakan Desert, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(6): 765-777.
[11] CHENG Hong, HE Jiajia, XU Xingri, ZOU Xueyong, WU Yongqiu, LIU Chenchen, DONG Yifan, PAN Meihui, WANG Yanzai, ZHANG Hongyan. Blown sand motion within the sand-control system in the southern section of the Taklimakan Desert Highway[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(5): 599-611.
[12] XingHua YANG, Qing HE, Mamtimin ALI, Wen HUO XinChun LIU. Near-surface sand-dust horizontal flux in Tazhong—the hinterland of the Taklimakan Desert[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2013, 5(2): 199-206.
[13] XingHua YANG, Ali MAMTIMIN, Qing HE, XinChun LIU, Wen HUO. Observation of saltation activity at Tazhong area in Taklimakan Desert, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2013, 5(1): 32-41.
[14] MinZhong WANG, WenShou WEI, Qing HE, XinChun LIU, ZhongJie ZHAO. Application of wind profiler data to rainfall analyses in Tazhong Oilfield region, Xinjiang, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2012, 4(4): 369-377.
[15] Li LI, XinWen XU, YongQiang SU, Wei HAN, PengFei TU. Effects of parasitic plant Cistanche deserticola on chlorophyll a fluorescence and nutrient accumulation of host plant Haloxylon ammodendron in the Taklimakan Desert[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2012, 4(3): 342-348.