Human-Carnivore Conflict

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.

Conflict occurs when lions attack livestock

Young male lion shot dead by livestock herders

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, and where and how conflict is taking place.

The research helps us work with livestock herders to promote good husbandry practices that reduce livestock depredation by carnivores.

Donkey killed by lions in a community area

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 in Samburu. With the understanding that carnivore populations, conflict dynamics, and methods for alleviating it varies from region to region, Ewaso Lions conducts research to address human-carnivore conflict among Samburu pastoralists to understand the unique factors that shape conflict in this particular region.

A study conducted in 2014, in collaboration with Imperial College London, analysed all the conflict data and provided us with recommendations for reducing livestock loss to carnivores. One notable finding was that the majority livestock depredation incidents by carnivores in Westgate occurred during the day, with leopards and hyaenas being the most problematic livestock killers. To reduce livestock loss to carnivores, the study recommended improving livestock husbandry by avoiding densely vegetated areas, using dogs to accompany grazing herds and not leaving livestock to graze unattended.

Read these two stories below explaining more about conflict in Samburu: