Senior Honors Projects, 2010-current

Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Department of Integrated Science and Technology

Advisor(s)

Jennifer E. Coffman

Amy R. Goodall

Michael L. Dealton

Jacob Mayiani Loorimirim

Abstract

African lion populations are in decline through much of Africa, however the problem is particularly acute in Kenyan Maasailand where local Maasai are spearing and poisoning lions at a rate that is unprecedented. The struggle to find a common ground for humans and lions are ongoing. Many rural communities in Kenya are almost completely dependent upon livestock farming for their livelihoods and pastoralists often resort to killing big cats and other predators in order to protect their livestock. In order to fully understand the phenomenon of big cat and livestock conflict, it is also important to recognize the foundations embedded in the local perception of livestock depredation by predators such as lions, as well as the socio-cultural, historical and economic factors that affect the complex human-predator relationship. All of these factors deeply affect pastoralist views towards current conservation and compensation activities and their tolerance of livestock predation. It is to this end that I am undertaking a partially interview-based Senior Honors Thesis that examines the phenomenon of big cat and livestock conflict in the Amboseli Region of Kenya concerning multiple Maasai communities as well as local perceptions of big cat and livestock conflict in Kenya with a particular focus on the lion. I am specifically interested in how pastoralists regard large carnivores, and how that affects their attitudes towards current conservation activities. The future of carnivore conservation in the area depends on an improved understanding of human-wildlife conflict and an effort to address community-level appropriate institutions by if possible providing economic incentives to local individuals who engage in positive conservation activities.

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