Maasai pastoralists kill lions in retaliation for depredation of livestock by lions.

Published online
26 Nov 2020
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Ontiri, E. M. & Odino, M. & Kasanga, A. & Kahumbu, P. & Robinson, W. & Currie, T. & Hodgson, D. J.

Publication language


A survey ws conducted on 213 Maasai communities from three geographic regions in Kenya to determine whether lion-killing is an indiscriminate act of retribution for the loss of livestock to any cause, or a specific act of retaliation for the loss of livestock to lions. It was shown that the probability of lion killing increased with increasing numbers of livestock lost to carnivores, but not with increasing numbers of livestock lost to drought, disease or theft. it was also found that lion-killing discriminated among culprit species of carnivore. The probability of lion-killing increased when lions are identified as culprits of livestock death, but not when leopard, cheetah, hyena, dog or jackal were identified. These results should change the perceived wisdom that lion-killing is provoked by general loss of livestock. It is instead a direct action against the loss of livestock to lions. This evidence should help shape the governance and mitigation of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya and beyond.

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