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One forecast for finding the needed balance

``True, the competition between people, livestock, and wild game is not yet solved in Kenya. But looking 20 to 30 years ahead, I see events moving toward a solution.'' This is the forecast of David Western, a conservationist who has been studying the ecology of southern Kenya for 30 years, and whose work is supported by the New York Zoological Society. Dr. Western said that much had to be done by the Kenyan government to make the Masai tribe in southern Kenya happier about the way some of their lands have been appropriated for game parks that attract tourists.

``But I see a critical transition coming in this country,'' Western, a Kenyan citizen, told me.

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``Africa today is in a similar position to Europe in the 1850s. Its cities are growing at 10 percent a year. As cities grow, as people leave the rural areas, so wildlife will have a chance to breathe more easily, just as buffalo and deer were able to survive better in the United States between 1880 and 1920.

``Something else will also happen.

``Wildlife will become exotic to Kenyans themselves. City dwellers will want to be tourists inside their own country. Like tourists from other countries, they will want to see their own zebra, elephant, rhino, and lion.

``Gradually, instead of resenting wildlife as competition for their livestock, Africans will want to preserve wildlife as part of their country. . . .

``It will take time. But it will come. . . .''