Tourism is the largest foreign exchange earner in Kenya. It has played a great role in the improvement of the country economy. Wildlife in Kenya is the major attraction of the tourism sector. Despite the development and improvement of the economy, tourism has brought various negative effects on the environment. Tourists have continued to destroy the feeding and breeding areas for wild animals for many years.
As tourist vehicles drive over the grassland for close game viewing and photographing, much of the feedstock of the herbivorous is greatly damaged. As a result, this affects the balance of the Eco-system. Driving in the parks also scares the animals forcing them to vacate the to other areas.
Most parks and game reserves are located in remote places. There have been reported cases of virus and bacteria in some parks brought by tourists. This has killed infected animals, resulting in the reduction of the wildlife population. The smoke and dust caused by these vehicles greatly pollute the environment.
The construction of hotels, roads and restaurants near the parks disturb the wild animals. Some of these construction is done inside the park and this reduces the breeding home of the wildlife. Poor sewage and untreated disposal to the rivers, lakes and sea affects both marine and land life. Livestock and local people who drink the contaminated water are at a high risk of water related diseases.
The Masai communities are the original owners of the Masai Mara National Reserve. These people have lived peacefully with the wild animals for ages. The expansion and conservation of the Masai Mara reserve evicted the Masai community. The government failure to compensate them has brought conflict among the community. The revenue income given to the Masai tribe is not satisfactory, causing misunderstanding between the government and the community.
Poaching for ivory by the local people has greatly reduced the elephant population for the past years. The continued destruction of trees by the local people in search of timber, charcoal and firewood has also affected the wild animals. Insufficient security in the parks has also contributed to wildlife and forest destruction by man. This has affected the catchments areas causing many rivers to dry up. All the marine life in these rivers has also died.
The regulations for environment protection are hard to implement and to enforce. Majority of the tourism operators are corrupt and only interested in themselves. Sometimes the local community employed in the tourism industry get very little payment which hardly improve their living standards.