Rangelands throughout sub-Saharan Africa are currently undergoing two major pressures: climate change (through altered rainfall and seasonality patterns) and habitat fragmentation (brought by land use change driven by land demand for agriculture and conservation). Here we explore these dimensions, investigating the impact of land use change decisions, by pastoralists in southern Kenya rangelands, on human well-being and animal densities using an agent-based model. The constructed agent-based model uses input biomass data simulated by the Lund-Potsdam-Jena General Ecosystem Simulator (LPJ-GUESS) dynamic vegetation model and parameterized with data from literature. Scenarios of land use change under different rainfall years, land tenure types and levels of wildlife conservation support were simulated. Reflecting reality, our results show livestock grazing as the predominant land use that changes with precipitation and land tenure leading to varying livelihood strategies. For example, agriculture is the most common livelihood in wet years and conservation levels increase with increasing support of wildlife conservation initiatives. Our model demonstrates the complex and multiple interactions between pastoralists, land management and the environment. We highlight the importance of understanding the conditions driving the sustainability of semi-arid rangelands and the communities they support, and the role of external actors, such as wildlife conservation investors, in East Africa.
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