Impact of climate variability over large carnivore predation on livestock in the Amboseli Ecosystem, Kenya

  • Abstract

The increase of human population has accelerated the loss of habitat for many wildlife species and brings humans and wildlife to live in increasingly close proximity to one another, which may exacerbate human-wildlife conflicts. In Amboseli Ecosystem, Kenya, large carnivores populations have declined and their geographic ranges have contracted because Maasai pastoralists kill them in retaliation for livestock predation. Using detailed livestock predation data in two Amboseli group ranches (Olgulului and Mbirikani), I investigated the relative importance of each predator in livestock attacks and the livestock type preference for each predator. Moreover, I determined the period (wet or dry season) where more livestock attacks occur and I examined how climate variability influences the number of livestock attacks. Predator species have different behaviours and use different strategies to attack livestock. Some of them tend to kill more livestock during each attack and others less. Hyena (Crocuta crocuta) is the predator who kills more number of livestock during each attack, followed by lion (Panthera leo), leopard (Panthera pardus), cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and jackal (Canis mesomelas). The absolute number of each type of livestock killed by predators varied among years over the 7-year study period, although shoats were always the livestock attacked the most (highest number of kills in both ranches) followed by cows and donkeys in much lower proportion. There is a negative relationship between rainfall and the number of livestock killed per attack and during the drought period more livestock are killed per attack than during the wet period. Furthermore, my results show that climate patterns are changing in Amboseli Ecosystem, decreasing rainfalls and increasing drought periods year after year.

  • Key words

Amboseli, ecosystem, habitat fragmentation, connectivity, climate variability, rainfall, wildlife conservation, Maasai, livestock, predation, carnivore

  • More information

This report is the result of six-month at the Metapopulation Research Centre, in the Department of Biosciences of the University of Helsinki, in Finland, under the supervision of Prof. Mar Cabeza. This work corresponds to my bachelor’s final year project. My bachelor degree was conducted at Facultat de Ciències i Tecnologia of the Universitat de Vic (UVIC), in Spain.

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