Skip to main content

A culture of tolerance: coexisting with large carnivores in the Kafa Highlands, Ethiopia

  • Fikirte Gebresenbet (a1), Brhane Baraki (a2), Gidey Yirga (a2), Claudio Sillero-Zubiri (a3) and Hans Bauer (a3)...

We assessed losses of livestock to lions Panthera leo and leopards Panthera pardus in the Adiyo and Gimbo districts in Kafa Biosphere Reserve, Ethiopia. We quantified the economic impact, conducted household and group interviews, and explored potential solutions with local people. During 2009–2013 there were 350 and 62 attacks by lions and leopards, respectively. Households that suffered attacks on their livestock lost a mean of USD 287 and USD 310 in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Although lion attacks are more frequent than leopard attacks, our qualitative data indicate that tolerance for the former is higher because lions are more respected in the local culture. We describe how depredation is culturally mitigated and how retaliatory killing is avoided. Given people's tolerance towards them, carnivores may persist in their highland refugium, opening an arena for conservation that is not strictly linked to protected areas or to classical economics.

Corresponding author
(Corresponding author) E-mail
Hide All
Ajzen, I. & Fishbein, M. (1977) Attitude–behavior relations: a theoretical analysis and review of empirical research. Psychological Bulletin, 84, 888918.
Ajzen, I. & Fishbein, M. (2005) The influence of attitudes on behavior. In The Handbook of Attitudes (eds Albarracín, D., Johnson, B.T. & Zanna, M.P.), pp. 173222. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, USA.
Albaum, G. (1997) The Likert scale revisited: an alternate version. Journal of the Market Research Society, 39, 331349.
Ale, S.B., Yonzon, P. & Thapa, K. (2007) Recovery of snow leopard Uncia uncia in Sagarmatha (Mount Everest) National Park, Nepal. Oryx, 41, 8992.
Anyango-Van Zwieten, N., Van der Duim, R. & Visseren-Hamakers, I.J. (2015) Compensating for livestock killed by lions: payment for environmental services as a policy arrangement. Environmental Conservation, 42, 363372.
Appelbaum, E.B. (2004) The Consumer Price Index and inflation: adjust numbers for inflation. Journal of Online Mathematics and its Applications. Http:// [accessed 25 June 2014].
Athreya, V., Odden, M., Linnell, J.D.C., Krishnaswamy, J. & Karanth, K.U. (2016) A cat among the dogs: leopard Panthera pardus diet in a human-dominated landscape in western Maharashtra, India. Oryx, 50, 156162.
Baillie, J.E.M., Griffiths, J., Turvey, S.T., Loh, J. & Collen, B. (2010) Evolution Lost: Status and Trends of the World's Vertebrates. Zoological Society of London, UK.
Bauer, H., Chapron, G., Nowell, K., Henschel, P., Funston, P., Hunter, L.T.B. et al. (2015) Lion (Panthera leo) populations are declining rapidly across Africa, except in intensively managed areas. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112, 1489414899.
Bauer, H., de Iongh, H. & Sogbohossou, E. (2010) Assessment and mitigation of human–lion conflict in West and Central Africa. Mammalia, 74, 363367.
Bauer, H., Müller, L., Van Der Goes, D. & Sillero-Zubiri, C. (2017) Financial compensation for damage to livestock by lions Panthera leo on community rangelands in Kenya. Oryx, 51, 106114.
Baynes-Rock, M. (2015) Ethiopian buda as hyenas: where the social is more than human. Folklore, 126, 266282.
Berhan, L.A. (2008) Status and Distribution of Faunal Diversity in Kafa Afromontane Coffee Forest. A report submitted to PPP project, Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, Ethiopia.
Blackburn, S., Hopcraft, J.G.C., Ogutu, J.O., Matthiopoulos, J. & Frank, L. (2016) Human–wildlife conflict, benefit sharing and the survival of lions in pastoralist community-based conservancies. Journal of Applied Ecology, 53, 11951205.
Bruskotter, J.T. & Fulton, D.C. (2012) Will hunters steward wolves? A comment on Treves and Martin. Society & Natural Resources, 25, 97102.
Bruskotter, J.T. & Shelby, L.B. (2010) Human dimensions of large carnivore conservation and management: introduction to the special issue. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 15, 311314.
Bruskotter, J.T., Singh, A., Fulton, D.C. & Slagle, K. (2015) Assessing tolerance for wildlife: clarifying relations between concepts and measures. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 20, 255270.
Bruskotter, J.T. & Wilson, R.S. (2014) Determining where the wild things will be: using psychological theory to find tolerance for large carnivores. Conservation Letters, 7, 158165.
Chapron, G., Kaczensky, P., Linnell, J.D.C., von Arx, M., Huber, D., Andrén, H. et al. (2014) Recovery of large carnivores in Europe's modern human-dominated landscapes. Science, 346, 15171519.
Dickman, A.J., Macdonald, E.A. & Macdonald, D.W. (2011) A review of financial instruments to pay for predator conservation and encourage human–carnivore coexistence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108, 1393713944.
Doody, O., Slevin, E. & Taggart, L. (2013) Focus group interviews. Part 3: analysis. British Journal of Nursing, 22, 266269.
Dresen, E. (2011) Forest and Community Analysis. Final report for the project ‘Climate protection and preservation of primary forests—a management model using the wild coffee forests in Ethiopia as an example’. Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, Berlin, Germany.
Fisher, M. (2016) Whose conflict is it anyway? Mobilizing research to save lives. Oryx, 50, 377378.
Frank, L.G., Woodroffe, R. & Ogada, M.O. (2005) People and predators in Laikipia District, Kenya. In People and Wildlife: Conflict or Coexistence? (eds Woodroffe, R., Thirgood, S. & Rabinowitz, A.), pp. 286304. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
Gebresenbet, F., Bauer, H., Hunter, L. & Gebretensae, K. (2009) Proceedings of the National Lion Conservation Workshop. Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Gebresenbet, F., Daniel, W., Bauer, H. & Haile, A. (2013) Governance: for effective and efficient conservation in Ethiopia. In Conservation Biology: Lessons from the Tropics (eds Navjot, S.S. & Raven, P.H.), pp. 1925. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.
Gifford-Gonzalez, D. (2000) Animal disease challenges to the emergence of pastoralism in Sub-Saharan Africa. The African Archaeological Review, 17, 95139.
Goldman, M.J., Roque De Pinho, J. & Perry, J. (2010a) Maintaining complex relations with large cats: Maasai and lions in Kenya and Tanzania. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 15, 332346.
Goldman, R.L., Daily, G.C. & Kareiva, P. (2010b) Trade-offs in making ecosystem services and human well-being conservation priorities. In Trade-Offs in Conservation: Deciding What to Save (eds Leader-Williams, N., Adams, W.M. & Smith, R.J.), p. 56. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.
Hayward, M.W., Henschel, P., O'Brien, J., Hofmeyr, M., Balme, G. & Kerley, G.I.H. (2006) Prey preferences of the leopard (Panthera pardus). Journal of Zoology, 270, 298313.
Hazzah, L., Dolrenry, S., Naughton-Treves, L., Edwards, C.T., Mwebi, O., Kearney, F. & Frank, L. (2014) Efficacy of two lion conservation programs in Maasailand, Kenya. Conservation Biology, 28, 851860.
Hazzah, L., Mulder, M.B. & Frank, L. (2009) Lions and warriors: social factors underlying declining African lion populations and the effect of incentive-based management in Kenya. Biological Conservation, 142, 24282437.
Heberlein, T.A. (2012) Navigating environmental attitudes. Conservation Biology, 26, 583585.
Hemson, G., Maclennan, S., Mills, G., Johnson, P. & Macdonald, D. (2009) Community, lions, livestock and money: a spatial and social analysis of attitudes to wildlife and the conservation value of tourism in a human–carnivore conflict in Botswana. Biological Conservation, 142, 27182725.
IBC (Institute of Biodiversity Conservation) (2009) Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – Ethiopia´s 4th Country Report. IBC, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Ikanda, D. & Packer, C. (2008) Ritual vs retaliatory killing of African lions in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. Endangered Species Research, 6, 6774.
Index Mundi (2014) Ethiopia - Consumer price index. Http:// [accessed 14 January 2014].
Inskip, C. & Zimmermann, A. (2009) Human–felid conflict: a review of patterns and priorities worldwide. Oryx, 43, 1834.
Jørgensen, M. & Phillips, L. (2002) Discourse Analysis: As Theory and Method. SAGE Publications, London, UK.
Karanth, K.U. & Chellam, R. (2009) Carnivore conservation at the crossroads. Oryx, 43, 12.
Karanth, K.K., Naughton-Treves, L., DeFries, R. & Gopalaswamy, A.M. (2013) Living with wildlife and mitigating conflicts around three Indian protected areas. Environmental Management, 52, 13201332.
Kissui, B.M. (2008) Livestock predation by lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, and their vulnerability to retaliatory killing in the Maasai steppe, Tanzania. Animal Conservation, 11, 422432.
Kopnina, H. (2015) Revisiting the Lorax complex: deep ecology and biophilia in cross-cultural perspective. Environmental Sociology, 1, 315324.
Krosnick, J.A. & Presser, S. (2010) Question and questionnaire design. In Handbook of Survey Research (eds Marsden, P.V. & Wright, J.D.), pp. 263313. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, UK.
Krueger, R.A. & Casey, M.A. (2000) Focus Groups: A Practical Guide for Applied Research. Sage Publications, New Delhi, India.
Lichtenfeld, L.L., Trout, C. & Kisimir, E.L. (2015) Evidence-based conservation: predator-proof bomas protect livestock and lions. Biodiversity and Conservation, 24, 483491.
Maclennan, S.D., Groom, R.J., Macdonald, D.W. & Frank, L.G. (2009) Evaluation of a compensation scheme to bring about pastoralist tolerance of lions. Biological Conservation, 142, 24192427.
Manfredo, M.J. & Dayer, A.A. (2004) Concepts for exploring the social aspects of human–wildlife conflict in a global context. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 9, 120.
Manfredo, M.J., Teel, T.L. & Bright, A.D. (2003) Why are public values toward wildlife changing? Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 8, 287306.
Marchini, S. & Macdonald, D.W. (2012) Predicting ranchers’ intention to kill jaguars: case studies in Amazonia and Pantanal. Biological Conservation, 147, 213221.
Marker, L.L., Mills, M.G.L. & Macdonald, D.W. (2003) Factors influencing perceptions of conflict and tolerance toward cheetahs on Namibian farmlands. Conservation Biology, 17, 12901298.
Meena, V., Macdonald, D.W. & Montgomery, R.A. (2014) Managing success: Asiatic lion conservation, interface problems and peoples’ perceptions in the Gir Protected Area. Biological Conservation, 174, 120126.
Moritz, M. (2013) Livestock transfers, risk management, and human careers in a West African pastoral system. Human Ecology, 41, 205219.
NABU (The Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union) (2016) Results and findings of NABU's International Biodiversity Assessment at the Kafa Biosphere Reserve, Ethiopia. NABU, Berlin, Germany, and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Https:// [accessed 20 December 2016].
Naughton-Treves, L., Grossberg, R. & Treves, A. (2003) Paying for tolerance: rural citizens’ attitudes toward wolf depredation and compensation. Conservation Biology, 17, 15001511.
Njuki, J., Poole, J., Johnson, N., Baltenweck, I., Pali, P., Lokman, Z. & Mburu, S. (2011) Gender, Livestock and Livelihood Indicators. International Livestock Research Institute, Nairobi, Kenya.
Odden, M., Athreya, V., Rattan, S. & Linnell, J.D.C. (2014) Adaptable neighbours: movement patterns of GPS-collared leopards in human dominated landscapes in India. PLoS ONE, 9(11), e112044.
Ogada, M.O., Woodroffe, R., Oguge, N.O. & Frank, L.G. (2003) Limiting depredation by African carnivores: the role of livestock husbandry. Conservation Biology, 17, 15211530.
Ostrom, E. (1998) A behavioural approach to the rational choice theory of collective action: Presidential Address, American Political Science Association, 1997. American Political Science Review, 92, 122.
Packer, C., Loveridge, A., Canney, S., Caro, T., Garnett, S.T., Pfeifer, M. et al. (2013) Conserving large carnivores: dollars and fence. Ecology Letters, 16, 635641.
Patterson, B.D., Kasiki, S.M., Selempo, E. & Kays, R.W. (2004) Livestock predation by lions (Panthera leo) and other carnivores on ranches neighboring Tsavo National Park, Kenya. Biological Conservation, 119, 507516.
Pratihast, A.K., DeVries, B., Avitabile, V., de Bruin, S., Kooistra, L., Tekle, M. & Herold, M. (2014) Combining satellite data and community-based observations for forest monitoring. Forests, 5, 24642489.
Redpath, S.M., Bhatia, S. & Young, J. (2015) Tilting at wildlife: reconsidering human–wildlife conflict. Oryx, 49, 222225.
Ripple, W.J., Estes, J.A., Beschta, R.L., Wilmers, C.C., Ritchie, E.G., Hebblewhite, M. et al. (2014) Status and ecological effects of the world's largest carnivores. Science, 343, 1241484.
Romañach, S.S., Lindsey, P.A. & Woodroffe, R. (2007) Determinants of attitudes towards predators in central Kenya and suggestions for increasing tolerance in livestock dominated landscapes. Oryx, 41, 185195.
Schuette, P., Creel, S. & Christianson, D. (2013) Coexistence of African lions, livestock, and people in a landscape with variable human land use and seasonal movements. Biological Conservation, 157, 148154.
Schütze, K. (2014) Ethiopia's rare mountain lions. Http:// [accessed 9 July 2014].
Sillero-Zubiri, C. & Laurenson, K. (2001) Interactions between carnivores and local communities: conflict or co-existence? In Proceedings of a Carnivore Conservation Symposium (eds Gittleman, J., Funk, S., Macdonald, D.W. & Wayne, R.K.), pp. 282312. Zoological Society of London, UK.
Sogbohossou, E.A., de Iongh, H.H., Sinsin, B., de Snoo, G.R. & Funston, P.J. (2011) Human–carnivore conflict around Pendjari Biosphere Reserve, northern Benin. Oryx, 45, 569578.
Thomas, R.E.W., Bruyere, B., Sundaresan, S., Bouzo, S., Welden, R. & Trimarco, J. (2015) Youth experiences with wildlife during a period of significant cultural change in Laikipia, Kenya. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 20, 133146.
Thorn, M., Green, M., Marnewick, K. & Scott, D.M. (2015) Determinants of attitudes to carnivores: implications for mitigating human–carnivore conflict on South African farmland. Oryx, 49, 270277.
Trading Economics (2014) Ethiopia inflation rate. Http:// [accessed 25 June 2014].
Treves, A. (2012) Tolerant attitudes reflect an intent to steward: a reply to Bruskotter and Fulton. Society & Natural Resources, 25, 103104.
Treves, A. & Karanth, K.U. (2003) Human–carnivore conflict and perspectives on carnivore management worldwide. Conservation Biology, 17, 14911499.
Treves, A., Wallace, R.B., Naughton-Treves, L. & Morales, A. (2006) Co-managing human–wildlife conflicts: a review. Human Dimensions of Wildlife, 11, 383396.
Tumenta, P.N., de Iongh, H.H., Funston, P.J. & Udo de Haes, H.A. (2013) Livestock depredation and mitigation methods practised by resident and nomadic pastoralists around Waza National Park, Cameroon. Oryx, 47, 237242.
Williams, A. (2003) How to …write and analyse a questionnaire. Journal of Orthodontics, 30, 245252.
Woodroffe, R. & Frank, L.G. (2005) Lethal control of African lions (Panthera leo): local and regional population impacts. Animal Conservation, 8, 9198.
Woodroffe, R. & Sillero-Zubiri, C. (2012) Lycaon pictus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T12436A16711116. Http:// [accessed 16 August 2015].
World Bank (2013) Ethiopia: Country at a glance. Http:// [accessed 12 June 2014].
Yirga, G., De Iongh, H.H., Leirs, H., Gebrihiwot, K., Deckers, J. & Bauer, H. (2012) Adaptability of large carnivores to changing anthropogenic food sources: diet change of spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) during Christian fasting period in northern Ethiopia. Journal of Animal Ecology, 81, 10521055.
Yirga, G., Ersino, W., De Iongh, H.H., Leirs, H., Gebrehiwot, K., Deckers, J. & Bauer, H. (2013) Spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta) coexisting at high density with people in Wukro district, northern Ethiopia. Mammalian Biology, 78, 193197.
Yirga, G., Imam, E., De Iongh, H.H., Leirs, H., Kiros, S., Yohannes, T.G. et al. (2014) Local spotted hyena abundance and community tolerance of depredation in human-dominated landscapes in Northern Ethiopia. Mammalian Biology, 79, 325330.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
  • URL: /core/journals/oryx
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed