The West Kilimanjaro landscape connects the slopes of Africa’s tallest mountain to Kenya's Amboseli National Park. Savannas provide forage for livestock as well as passage for Amboseli elephants and hunting grounds for large carnivores.
Despite the high potential for human-wildlife conflict, programs like Warriors for Wildlife are creating change in communities and opening hearts and habitat to Africa’s carnivores.
I can say that the community is now very much educated and informed on the importance of wildlife. Before that, they used to kill lions and other wildlife with poison as revenge for the killing of their livestock, or if they imposed any threat.
Mteriani Mesikana, Warrior for Wildlife
On the Ground in West Kilimanjaro
A Community Force for Conservation
As locally-based human-wildlife coexistence officers, Warriors for Wildlife have many crucial roles, from fostering public acceptance of large carnivores and promoting sustainable herding practices to installing Living Walls and conducting recovery efforts for lost livestock that are vulnerable to predation.
Officers also have the important responsibility of collecting data about potential and attempted retaliatory killings of predators. Whenever such attempts occur, they quickly implement mitigation techniques aimed at preventing the killing of big cats. In the West Kilimanjaro landscape, our 13 Warriors for Wildlife are particularly focused on preventing conflict at pasture as a part of the path to human-wildlife coexistence.
Making Room for Wild Dogs
Population growth and human activities such as livestock grazing and agricultural expansion have caused a rapid decline in large carnivore populations in East Africa, including African wild dogs. These highly social and intelligent animals require large open areas to hunt and roam, but habitat loss and disease outbreaks have led to their population decline.
Despite this, a pack of wild dogs has been spotted in two local villages in the West Kilimanjaro landscape, where we also recorded an increase in big cat sightings in 2022. The increasing level of local tolerance for wildlife positively affects multiple species, and making room for wild dogs is one way that communities are showing their commitment to coexistence.
Preventing Conflict at Pasture
Livestock depredation at pasture accounts for over 72% of all conflicts reported by Warriors for Wildlife in the West Kilimanjaro Landscape. In comparison, pasture and boma conflict are relatively equal in other landscapes where we work. As expected, most of these pasture conflicts occur at night, with hyena responsible for the majority. In over half of these reported conflicts, the livestock were lost at pasture.
The Warriors for Wildlife in West Kilimanjaro respond to reports of lost livestock by conducting evening searches to recover animals before they encounter hungry carnivores. In 2022, they recovered 824 head of livestock over the course of 82 successful searches, playing a crucial role in local food and income security.