Lion numbers across Africa have declined significantly, and one of the main causes is direct conflict with humans. Lions in northern Kenya are especially vulnerable to conflict because they live in or adjacent to areas inhabited by nomadic pastoralists and come into regular conflict with local people over livestock depredation. Conflict occurs when lions attack livestock and herders retaliate by fatally shooting, spearing, or poisoning lions and other large carnivores.
The Ewaso Lions team conducts research on human-carnivore conflict in our study area in order to develop strategies for preventing carnivore attacks on livestock, which will then reduce retaliatory killing of carnivores. Our research includes determining the carnivore species responsible for the most number of attacks on livestock, where and how conflict is taking place, other factors like weather and terrain that contribute to conflict, and livestock husbandry methods that are successful in preventing conflict.
The research helps us work with local livestock keepers to promote good husbandry practices that reduce livestock depredation by carnivores. We help fix weak bomas, help look for lost livestock, and encourage good practices such as using guard dogs, noisemakers, and lights at night.
We conduct informational interviews among warriors, elders, and women. The surveys contain questions on livestock ownership and husbandry, knowledge and attitudes towards wildlife, lion sightings and perceptions, conflict, and actions towards carnivores. We follow up with surveys to ascertain the shift in lion acceptance and/or knowledge of conservation in order to assess local people’s attitudes and evaluate the effectiveness of the various community programmes.
While there is a wealth of research on human-wildlife conflict and management suggestions related to other pastoral groups like the Maasai, there is very little information on conflict situations within Samburu communities. With the understanding that carnivore populations, conflict dynamics, and methods for alleviating it varies from region to region, Ewaso Lions is conducting the first major study to address human-carnivore conflict among Samburu pastoralists to understand the unique factors that shape conflict in this particular region.