An assessment of pastoralist attitudes and wildlife conflict in the Rungwa-Ruaha region, Tanzania

Human-wildlife conflict is an issue of pressing conservation concern, particularly when it involves threatened species, and accurately identifying the causes of such conflict is fundamental to developing effective resolution strategies. This report investigated attitudes of Maasai and Barabaig pastoralists towards wildlife in central Tanzania, with particular emphasis on five focal carnivore species. Pastoralists reported significant problems with wild animals, particularly carnivores, and results suggested that low levels of retaliatory killing were predominantly due to circumstantial constraints rather than innate tolerance. Number of stock owned and proportion of losses attributed to predators were the most important determinants of conflict examined, with some inter-tribal variation in tolerance. Successful conflict mitigation will depend upon reducing depredation through improved husbandry and improving the cost-benefit ratio of wildlife presence, thereby increasing pastoralist wealth and providing direct, relevant benefits from conservation. Implementing effective conflict resolution schemes should have significant benefits for both human and wildlife populations.