Amboseli National Reserve in southern Kenya is home to the Maasai people, who are nomadic some of the time and raise cattle. The reserve is also a major tourist destination, where people from around the world can experience Africa and wild animals, such as lions and elephants.
Today, environmental change and the future of tourism are being threatened in the area. We will consider long-term change and the more recent management of lions that may result in their local extinction. Loss of the woodland habitat was initially blamed on overgrazing of cattle by the Maasai people and damage to the trees from elephants. Environmental scientists eventually rejected these hypotheses as the main causes of the environmental change.
Their careful work showed that changes in rainfall and soils were the primary culprits, rather than people or elephants. Before the mid-1950s, fever-tree woodlands mostly acacia trees and associated grasses and shrubs dominated the land and provided habitat for mammals that lived in these open woodlands, such as kudu, baboons, verve monkeys, leopards, and impalas. Then, beginning in the 1950s and accelerating in the 1960s, these woodlands disappeared and were replaced by short grass and brush, which provided habitat for typical plains animals, such as zebras and wildebeest.