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Superiority of Man and the Danger on Natural Resources: Linkage between Human Activities
and the Death of Natural Resources in Kenya
George Ouma Ochola*
Department of Agronomy and Environmental Studies, Kenya
Submission: November 27, 2018; Published: December 20, 2018
*Corresponding author: George Ouma Ochola, Department of Agronomy and Environmental Studies, Kenya.
How to cite this article: George Ouma Ochola. Superiority of Man and the Danger on Natural Resources: Linkage between Human Activities and the
Death of Natural Resources in Kenya. Int J Environ Sci Nat Res. 2018; 16(1): 555928. DOI:10.19080/IJESNR.2018.16.555928.
There are various explanations which try to clarify the position occupied by man as an organism on the earth’s surface. Some scientific explanations have asserted that man evolved from primate beings and became a superior being overtime. On the other hand, the Biblical explanation provides the work done by the Supernatural Being in creating man on the sixth day and giving him dominion over all the birds of the air and other creatures on the earth’s surface and in the see (Genesis 1:28). According to this verse, God Himself blessed man and gave him power to increase in number, fill the earth and to subdue it. This did not stop there, man was given power to rule over other creatures such as fish in the sea, birds among other living creatures that move on the ground. This is what is provided by the Judeo-Christian Ethic. The dominion that was given to man has not been utilized appropriately. Many resources have been degraded and some species have been lost. The power to increase, fill and subdue the earth has not been sustainable. Man has considered himself so superior that other organisms are now threatened with extinction. Rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands, forest ecosystems are now becoming endangered. Ironically, as man fails to consider these resources, he also endangers himself. This study was exploratory and used survey and document analysis to gather information. The findings of this study have revealed that the modern man digs his own grave by considering himself to be so superior and failing to take concern over other resources. The study therefore advocates for change of attitude among individuals for sustainable use of the available natural resources.
Keywords: Human superiority; Natural resources; Linkage; Danger kenya
Man’s ability to manipulate, modify and transform the earth is increasingly becoming a global issue of concern. It has been difficult to realize that however much superior we are, our lives depend on the natural resources within our reach. Man’s developmental activities create more harm to the environment and endanger the natural resources available. He has misinterpreted and missed used the dominion he was given over other creatures. As was mentioned earlier, the power that was given to man was not that he destroys the resources but it was to be steward of these other resources. Misinterpretation of the power bestowed on man by God has been disastrous to other living organisms. The emergence of industries and locomotives that support man’s life has been seen to impact on the environment negatively . For better understanding of this concept of man’s superiority, let’s have a glance at a few activities discussed below.
The power of man has been seen where he tames various animals and use them to fetch money. Man has been able to create small ranches and game reserves where they can capture various organisms/animals and use them for their personal gain. Various
wildlife has suffered poaching where many species have been killed just for some of their specific parts. Imagine of cases where big animals such as elephants and rhinos are brought down just because of the tusks and ivories. Country like Kenya has lost the white rhino species just because of individuals who do not value these resources. The governments can testify the how the loss of these rare species has affected their economy through tourism sector. The study of our ecosystems and the interaction within the ecosystem justify to us one of the environmental principles of nature that everything was created for a purpose. Elimination of some species in the ecosystem causes ecological imbalance.
Man has also killed various species of wildlife such as antelopes for bush meat. The disturbance caused by man to these resources in their natural habitats interferes with their reproduction. Killing them for bush meat decreases their number and also endangers them . A number of animals and birds have been killed provide bush meat. Still this affects the tourism sector in the country and impacts negatively on the country’s economy.
Clearance of vegetation by man has also been seen to impact negatively on the wildlife resources. Vegetation is constantly cleared to pave way for agricultural activities and settlement. Forest ecosystems, wetlands, grassland among other ecosystems act as habitat for various wildlife. Clearance or disturbance of
these ecosystems make many animals and birds to migrate to
other places they deem safer . Clearance of vegetation always
make the land to remain bare and susceptible to erosional agents.
This allows run-off to flow with a high velocity sweeping the top
spoil and degrading land. The top soil swept may also lead to
siltation of water bodies making them to lose depth. This direct
affect the aquatic organisms.
Encroachment into the wildlife protected areas is another
factor where superiority of man has caused a challenge to the
wildlife resources. As human population increase, more land is
need for settlement and food production (agriculture). People
encroach the wildlife reserved areas to undertake various
activities. This has always resulted into human-wildlife conflict
where man always become the winner. In such cases, many
animals are killed and other are scared away and may move to
unsafe areas occupied by the predators hence endangering their
lives. Encroaching into wildlife reserved areas has reduced these
areas and denied many wild animals freedom to move and interact
freely within their habitats. They are at times prevented from
accessing pasture and water in areas which have been encroached
by man. Lack of access to pasture and water interferes with their
The population in Kenya has been increasing almost every year
and this poses threat on the available natural resource. The major
challenge associate with rapid increase in population is that it is
associated with poverty and joblessness. The poor individuals and
the jobless normally are left with no alternative other than relying
basically on what nature provides. They hunt, clear vegetation,
burn charcoal, put pressure on available water resources, practice
shifting cultivation, make bricks and also take part in washing
cars and clothes directly inside river waters affecting the wildlife.
Figure 1 shows the Kenyan population growth trend that is
so worrying especially on the available natural resources. Job
opportunities do not prevail fast as the population grows. At the
moment Kenyan population alone is over 47million. This has put
pressure on available natural resources. Nairobi national park is
threaten by the constant increase in human population in Nairobi
city that needs more space for settlement and other services.
Man’s power over water resources has been seen in cases
where rivers are diverted and even channels changed, dams
and other reservoirs are constructed. When a river is diverted,
a number of aquatic organisms that used to be supported are
subjected to danger of extinction. It might be a problem that
may cause death of a wetland supported by that particular river.
This would mean that the ecological roles performed by such
wetland would be compromised. Water resources have suffered
degradation as a result of man’s activities. The major activity
that has resulted in water resource degradation is deforestation
by man. Forests and other forms of vegetation play a major
role in creation of micro-climate and contributing to water or
hydrological cycle. Depletion of vegetation has direct impact on
both water quality and quantity. When vegetation is cleared, the
land become prone to soil erosion that leads to siltation of water
bodies . In some cases the run-off carries with it nutrients from
agricultural lands together with other non-point pollutants such
as human feaces from the fields. These cause eutrophication and
degradation of water quality. Interference with hydrological cycle
may result into aridity and climate change whose impacts are not
only seen in human being but other organisms too. It has been
noted that the presence of vegetation determines the rainfall
pattern in an area.
Many streams and rivers are drying up as a result of
deforestation. Mara River in Kenya that empties its water
into Lake Natron is a good indicator. Many scholars and
conservationists have contended that as result of the degradation
of Mau Forest ecosystem, Mara River is faced with death. A
number of streams that were supported by Mau forest have also dried up. Unfortunately, man assumes the cause of the death of
these streams and rivers. Man upholds his superiority thinking
that he will continue to live even without these resources. This
assumption has also been accompanied by bad politics that is not
concerned about the future of man that relies upon sustainable
use of natural resources. Poor fishing methods is another factor
that has contributed to water quality degradation. Some people
have a far as using chemicals for fishing. In their view, they target
killing fish but instead of fish alone, the chemicals sprayed on
water form layer on water and interfere with dissolved oxygen
which is useful for aquatic organisms . These chemicals also
lower water quality. Many aquatic organisms are lost as a result of
such activities but does man care?
Mining is another factor that has been interfering with water
quality and quantity. During this activity, underground water
is pumped out to pave way for the miners. This interferes with
the water cycles as it is known that underground water is also a
contributor in water cycle . The chemicals used in mining such
as mercury which is a heavy metal also degrade water quality
and this might in turn impact on human health being that human
is a consumer of this resources. It is worth noting that all these
activities that human being undertake that negatively impact the
environment revolve and affect the very survival of man. Where
water quality is degraded, man a consumer becomes subjected
to water borne diseases. The moment deforestation occur as a
result of man’s activities such as charcoal burning and agriculture,
water cycle is interfered with and rainfall pattern changes. This
negatively affects agricultural activities that man relies on. A lot
of pollution is also realized as vegetation help in air purification.
Pollution of air also affects man. Air pollution may result into
climate change which negatively affect man and other organisms.
It therefore applies that when we fail to take care of nature, we
drink from a cup of poison that we ourselves have made.
The earth’s vegetation cover has suffered degradation as a result
of a number of human activities. Establishment of settlements
has led to the loss of land cover. Vast areas have been cleared to
provide room for establishment of structure that enables man
fins shelter. Agricultural activities have also impacted negatively
on vegetation as agriculture normally start with clearance of vegetation.
Charcoal burning is another activity that has been identified
to contribute immensely to loss of vegetation cover. Similarly,
industrialization has become a factor that also contribute
to degradation of forests and vegetation cover. The paper milling
industries have been sourcing their raw materials from forests.
Urbanization has also led to vegetation degradation. As a result
of urban sprawl, more land is subjected to vegetation clearance.
The land cover is lost to pave way to various urban development
activities. The rangeland and riparian zones are being encroached
and degraded as a result of urbanization .
The most unfortunate thing is that urban population is on
constant rise globally. In Kenya for example, most urban centres
are characterized by inadequate housing service supply. Table 1
indicates how world urban population has been increasing. This
implies that more housing facilities are required together with
other infrastructural services. The land cover is lost rapidly as
most land is transformed and their uses change. More natural
environment are being changed into built environment. This
leads to loss of vegetation. The ecological roles performed
by vegetation cannot be overstated. They contribute in air
purification, completion of hydrological cycle and also take part in
assimilation of wastes. Vegetation also provide habitat to various
bird species and other forms of biodiversity. Vegetation keeps the
compactness of the soil hence controlling soil erosion. As was
mentioned earlier provision of natural oxygen could be the most
important role performed by vegetation which benefits not only
man but other living creature on earth . The natural oxygen is
so useful and has been categorized by other scholars as the most
important resource of all the resources provided by nature. This is
because no living organisms can do without it. Therefore, anything
that disrupts supply of oxygen normally disrupts the very survival
of all life-forms on or under the earth’s surface. Urban sprawl has
been a major threat to vegetation since it leads to transformation
of land from natural to built environment. The built environment
normally compromises the ecological roles performed by the
natural resources. The resources become subjected to pressure
and new conditions that threaten their existence hence other end
up getting extinct .
As provided in Table 1, the world’s urban population was
only 1billion in the year 1960. In 2018, it has risen to 4.1billion.
Remember that this population need shelter, food and other
services. This increase can be calculated in term of pressure and
loss or depletion of natural resources. As time continues, the
natural vegetation will continue to be degraded and depleted.
Vegetation has to pave way for agriculture that feeds this
population and at the same time provide room for development
of settlements. Remember that the rural population has not been
provided in this case. The rural population also grows at that
faster rate and if awareness is not created or the rural community
is not empower with sustainable environmental management
skills, then the land that feeds people will not be productive
because vegetation influences climate of a region. Degrading the
forests and vegetation directly impacts on the water cycle and the
very survival of other resources such as wildlife. The presence of
vegetation also contributes in availing nutrient inform of humus
to be recycled. This nourishes soil fertility that also translate to
better yield in terms of agricultural production. Vegetation also
protects the top soil from being eroded. The presence of vegetation
reduces run-off velocity, and this enables infiltration which in turn
leads to recharge of underground water.
As was previously noted, the tendency of man in belittling
other resources has resulted into continuous problems that has
endangered these resources and the future generations. There is
indiscriminate logging, felling and clearance of vegetation whose
role in supporting human life cannot be overemphasized. A few
individuals have started appreciating that it is almost impossible
to live without vegetation. Vegetation if the mother of oxygen
and as an air purifier, it has been seen to contribute immensely
in controlling climate change . Some scholars have advocated
for greening our economies and urban centers. Our urban centers
have been seen to contribute larger percentage of pollutants into
the atmosphere. Many industries are found in urban centers and
the level of emissions is high. One of the most preferred remedy
for pollution problem is greening our urban centers. Vegetation
will act as carbon sinks and this reduces level of pollutants in the
atmosphere. The only challenge in adopting this mechanism is the
human mindset that focused on what benefits him at the moment
but not his future. Our superiority over resources has narrowed
of concern in undertaking the responsibility that was given to us.
The responsibility of being stewards of other resources for our
Business community has regarded land as a factor of production.
A lot is generated by land for human survival. Land a component
of the environment (lithosphere) support various human
activities and other form of biodiversity. It is a habitat for various
macro-and micro-organisms such as earth-warms that help in soil
aeration. Land provides anchorage to plants and/or vegetation
whose roles have been discussed above. It in land that nutrient
is recycled and taken up by these plants. Plats also taken in soil
water from the land itself .
Apart from supporting human settlement and agricultural
activities, man benefits from land resources such as minerals
resources. Land has enabled production and processing of
building materials such as stones and bricks. The only concern we
have now is that despite having known the benefits that accrue
from these resources, human has not taken the initiative to find
how these resources can be used sustainably. In most cases, brick
making is always undertaken at or near wetland where water can
be accessed easily. As a result such activities, the wetlands are
degraded and this always led to the loss of biodiversity supported
by the wetlands and extinction of some species. The activity of
brick making in most cases leaves the land degraded. Man has not
taken the initiative of restoring the degraded lands.
Extracting minerals has also led to land degradation. Land
dereliction problems have been seen in most areas where mining
takes place. A good example is in Macalder gold mines in Nyatike
Sub-County, Migori County in Kenya. Poor methods of mining
in these areas have resulted into degradation of water quality
and quantity . The underground water is pumped out during
mining to enable the miners access and extract the minerals. As
was noted earlier, some chemicals such as mercury are used in
processing of these minerals contains heavy metals that later
impact on human health when they get into water systems. The
places where mining has been undertaken become hazardous and
disastrous due to open pits left at the mining points. Quarrying
is another activity that had led to land degradation. This activity
starts and involves clearance of vegetation. It makes the land
to be ragged and loses its aesthetic value. The above discussed
activities have been seen to contribute to the well-being of human
but negatively affect the environmental resources upon which
the future of human depends. The increase in human population
is a major factor that has made it difficult to use the resources
sustainably. Natural resource degradation is also influence by lack of understanding and appreciation by individuals. Almost
everyone knows the contributions of various natural resources
in their daily lives but there is an assumption that they can do
without the natural resources. This has led to the unsustainable
use of these resources.
It has also been noted that land as a resource also suffer
rapid increase in human population. Land is fragmented, it is
over-cultivated, it loses its cover and it is subjected to agents
of erosion which sweeps its nutrients and also make it rugged.
Over-cultivation also makes land lose its nutrients/fertility. The
consistency in increase in human population has also been seen in
many African countries including the Sub-Saharan Africa. Kenya
is one of the examples of the countries where human population
increase is consistent. As was mentioned earlier, the increase in
human population is inversely proportional to natural resources
regeneration. The rate at which the natural resources regenerate
is much slower than the rate at which the human population
increases. As was mentioned earlier, the major driver to natural
resources degradation is the increase in human population
together with technological advancement. Human population
increase creates pressure on the available resources. It is from
that increase in human population that overexploitation of these
resources occurs. More land cover is lost a result of increased or
mechanized agriculture to help provide food for the increased
population. More settlements are also required to provide shelter
for the increased human population. Agriculture, settlements,
mining, overgrazing, urbanization together with industrialization
have contributed to loss of land cover.
From Table 2 it is clear that land as a resource will continue
to suffer fragmentation based on the constant rise in population
projected. Going by the forecast, it has been noted that by 2020 we
shall have a world urban population of 4.3billion. This is projected
to increase to 6.3 billion by 2050. Considering the current pressure
we have on land together with other natural resources, we can
ask ourselves whether the present and future generation will have
enough from these natural resources. Going by the current trend of
exploitation of natural resources, if we do not take an initiative to
advocate for sustainable use of these resources then even our own
lives are endangered It has been noted that the world’s population
is in constant increase. The trend shown in increase in population
is an indicator of the increased demand for the available natural
resources. The only challenge is that the as population increases,
the natural resources are continuing to be depleted. This calls
for proper management and sustainable of these resources. The
forested areas and rangelands continue to disappear as human
transform them to other uses. The built environment increases,
land is fragmented, more pressure on available water resources
among other challenges realized. Water resources are endangered.
The degraded wetlands, forest ecosystems and rangelands are
major contributors to the atmospheric moisture recharge hence
completion of hydrological cycle.
Narrowing down to Kenya, it is evidenced that just like other
countries in African continent, the population has been increasing
steadily. Table 3 shows the rise in Kenyan population form the year
1950-2018. In 1950, the Kenyan population was only 6 million.
There has been steady increase in population and in 2018, the
population has reached 50.9 million as per the source indicated.
With this, there is no doubt that natural resources in Kenya suffer
as a result of this population increase. It is not only land resources
that are put under pressure but also water and other resources.
As was mentioned earlier, the consequences of Kenyan population
increase and man’s superiority has been seen well in Mau Forest
Complex where people encroach and others go inside the forest to
grab land and claim ownership of such lands. The consequence is
loss of vegetation and drying up of rivers and streams supported
by this ecosystem. These consequences are not only on water
resources but also on other biodiversity.
It becomes apparent that with this constant increase of
population, our natural resources are endangered. The protected
areas that were formally preserved are now target for other
development activities and even settlement schemes. A good
example is Mau forest Complex in Kenya where some individuals
were issued with title deeds to own land not even in the riparian
zones of the forest but within the forest. Ironically the people
issuing these title deeds are well learned and more informed. They
are better placed in terms of the knowledge about consequences
of forest degradation. The only thing they focus on is the retention
of their political positions but not the well-being of the community.
Nairobi national park is also facing encroachment as the urban
expands. The city of Nairobi has led to death of Nairobi River that
has turned into a sewage. Though the activities to restore the
river are underway but the aquatic organisms that were formally
supported by the river got extinct.
Table 4 shows the Kenya population projection from the year
2010 to 2095. If you study the trend, it is clear that an increase
is realized after every interval of five years. All this translates to
pressure on available resources that may lead to their depletion.
Several rivers are also endangered especially the ones that flow
through urban areas such River Migori, Sare in Migori County,
Kenya and Ewaso Nyiro South that passes through Narok town
in Narok County, Kenya. The superiority on man has made him
to belittle what these ecosystems offer. They are now turning the
natural resources (rivers) into a dump site. Most of the urban
wastes are dumped into the rivers. The people down streams
that utilize these waters are becoming vulnerable to water borne
disease . In urban areas what is considered pure water or the
water that is preferred is the piped one. The modern man does not
value the natural source of the water but prefer the bottled water.
The only question is what is the source of piped and bottled water
that we prefer taking? These are some of the misunderstandings
and confusion that we need to alienate ourselves from. How can a
product be more preferred that the source. The catchment areas
are being degraded yet we still need the water down-stream.
Many forests are no more and we complain of unreliable rainfall
in our regions. Small sized nets are used for fishing and other
poor methods such as use of chemicals and we ask ourselves
the whereabouts of various fish species that we used to see in
the past. When we take time to analyze the changes that we are
now experiencing and the ones that have occurred over time, the
causes of these changes revolve around us.
Man has refused to accept that changes in rainfall patterns
and loss of various species of organisms are as a result of his
own activities. How can we expect a reliable rainfall in a region
with totally no vegetation? The elderly people can confess that
initially, they were able to predict rain. They could tell months
of the year when rainfall was expected and could even start
planting. Currently, the traditional methods of weather prediction
are challenged . Our technological advancement such as the
invention of automobiles including vehicles and industries have
filled the atmosphere with fumes and poisonous gases that has
caused global warming and acid rains. Burning of fossil fuels has
also contributed to this. Unless the modern man realizes where
and how he harms that environment, there will be no life. Climate
change has led to total loss of biodiversity and extinction of other
species which cannot adapt to the new climatic factors [9-12].
Superiority and pride of man overs natural resource has led
to death of many resources. However, there is a calamity that also
awaits man as these resources depreciate and continue being
depleted. Man causes his own problem by degrading and depleting
the natural resources through unsustainable use. Our lives barely
depend on these resources and this why they were made available
before man was created. For those who are believer in the Bible,
man was created on the sixth day after vegetation, water and
other creatures had been made available for his use. He was then
given power to increase in number fill the earth and subdue it.
It imperative to understand that the power that was given to
man over the other creatures was to enable him to be a steward.
Misinterpretation of this power and upholding our superiority
over other natural resources has endangered these resources.
They are now diminishing and it is upon them that our lives are
sustained. Thus using them unsustainably directly translates to
committing suicide. Let use embrace proper management and
sustainable use of these resources.