Variability and Change in Maasai Views of Wildlife and the Implications for Conservation

  • David Western
  • D. L. Manzolillo Nightingale
  • Victor Nyaliki MoseEmail author
  • Johnson Ole Sipitiek
  • Kennedy S. Kimiti


Surveys conducted across sections of the pastoral Maasai of Kenya show a wide variety of values for wildlife, ranging from utility and medicinal uses to environmental indicators, commerce, and tourism. Attitudes toward wildlife are highly variable, depending on perceived threats and uses. Large carnivores and herbivores pose the greatest threats to people, livestock, and crops, but also have many positive values. Attitudes vary with gender, age, education, and land holding, but most of all with the source of livelihood and location, which bears on relative abundance of useful and threatening species. Traditional pastoral practices and cultural views that accommodated coexistence between livestock and wildlife are dwindling and being replaced by new values and sensibilities as pastoral practices give way to new livelihoods, lifestyles, and aspirations. Human-wildlife conflict has grown with the transition from mobile pastoralism to sedentary livelihoods. Unless the new values offset the loss of traditional values, wildlife will continue to decline. New wildlife-based livelihoods show that continued coexistence is possible despite the changes underway.


Maasai attitudes Human-wildlife conflict Variability Pastoralism Sedentary livelihoods Economic transition Kenya 



We thank the many Resource Assessors (RAs) for help with data collection and the African Conservation Centre (ACC) for coordinating the survey in different study areas.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The Scientific and Ethical Review Commission of Research with Human Beings of the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation (NACOSTI) NO.28 (Revised 2013) in the Republic of Kenya approved this study. Local Maasai communities granted permission to conduct the surveys during group ranch meetings at the different study sites. The respondents voluntarily agreed to take part in the surveys.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

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Table S4 (DOCX 42 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Western
    • 1
  • D. L. Manzolillo Nightingale
    • 2
  • Victor Nyaliki Mose
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johnson Ole Sipitiek
    • 1
  • Kennedy S. Kimiti
    • 1
  1. 1.African Conservation CentreNairobiKenya
  2. 2.Environmental Management AdvisorsHoustonUSA

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