Husbandry practices and mitigation of human-carnivore conflicts : a case of the Maasai Steppe, Tanzania.
Biodiversity losses are often influenced by humans due to increased demand over natural resources and retaliatory killing of wildlife as a result of human–wildlife conflicts. Large carnivores are in decline globally due to the current human–carnivore conflicts. This study was conducted in the Maasai steppe of northern Tanzania to understand the role of traditional husbandry techniques in reducing livestock predation, herding challenges that place livestock at risk for predation, willingness of pastoralists to participate in schemes for livestock security improvement, and the role of Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) in mitigating human–carnivore conflicts. Data were collected using interviews with individuals in households and with herders in grazing fields and were reinforced with field observations. The primary husbandry strategies for livestock protection in homesteads were the bomas where livestock were enclosed at night, while in the grazing fields the strategies included: splitting livestock herds, herder among livestock, herder carrying weapons, and noise. There was no significant correlation between the wealth of an individual and the type of livestock protection strategy used at homesteads. All traditional strategies used by pastoral communities were equally ineffective in preventing livestock predation both at homesteads and in the grazing fields. However, over a four year period, there were no successful predations in any boma reinforced with chain-links, suggesting that reinforcing bomas with studier materials such as chain-link can be effective against livestock predation. Grazing in groups was found to provide more effective livestock protection in the grazing fields than any other strategy. While losing livestock by herders in the grazing fields contributed most to increased livestock predation, other herding challenges exposing livestock to predation included the seasonal nomadic lifestyle and long distances travelled by pastoral communities. The majority of respondents (91%) were willing to improve their livestock security by the use of chain-link fences at homesteads, while 87% were willing to participate in an insurance scheme for livestock security. Neither experience of livestock attack nor level of awareness of insurance scheme influenced willingness to participate in the scheme. There is growing awareness among pastoral communities of the benefits provided by carnivores and wildlife at large. Therefore, major conservation agencies such as TANAPA, Wildlife Division (WD) and other stakeholders should focus more than they have been on addressing the actual conflicts i.e. human–carnivore conflicts and helping to improve husbandry practices against predation to achieve conservation objectives by reducing retaliatory killing of carnivores.
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