Attitudes of Maasai pastoralists towards the conservation of large carnivores in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area of Northern Tanzania

Attitudes of Maasai pastoralists towards the conservation of large carnivores in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area of Northern Tanzania

Attitudes towards the conservation of lions, leopards, cheetah, spotted hyenas and African wild dogs were assessed in the Loliondo Game Controlled Area of northern Tanzania in January 2013. Our survey encompassed 181 individuals each representing onehousehold, of which 30 were chosen randomly from six Maasai pastoralist villages. A semi-structured questionnaire was used to acquire the required information from the respondents. We found that the majority of the Maasai pastoralists, particularly females, expressed negative attitudes towards the conservation of large carnivores. The reasons given for disliking carnivores differed between the sexes, but the most common reasons were that the carnivores attacked the respondents’ livestock at night and also purposefully and frequently attacked people. The Maasai pastoralists who had been to school, mostly males, expressed more positive attitudes than those who had not been to school. Those who liked at least two carnivore species had received greater benefits from conservation programs than those who liked only one or disliked all carnivore species. Therefore, to support the conservation of wild dogs and other large carnivores at large, we recommend that where possible, female Maasai should be allowed to access Protected Areas (PAs) resources during the time of hard ship or drought to improve their livelihood. In addition, they should be empowered by being involved in conserving large carnivores as “carnivore guardians”, exposed to ecotourism activities and be educated. Furthermore, conservation performance payments for carnivores should be institutionalized in the area.