Lions (Panthera leo) feed on diverse prey species, a range that is broadened by their cooperative hunting. Although humans are not typical prey, habitual man-eating by lions is well documented. Fathoming the motivations of the Tsavo and Mfuwe man-eaters (killed in 1898 in Kenya and 1991 in Zambia, respectively) may be elusive, but we can clarify aspects of their behaviour using dental microwear texture analysis. Specifically, we analysed the surface textures of lion teeth to assess whether these notorious man-eating lions scavenged carcasses during their depredations. Compared to wild-caught lions elsewhere in Africa and other large feliforms, including cheetahs and hyenas, dental microwear textures of the man-eaters do not suggest extreme durophagy (e.g. bone processing) shortly before death. Dental injuries to two of the three man-eaters examined may have induced shifts in feeding onto softer foods. Further, prompt carcass reclamation by humans likely limited the man-eaters' access to bones. Man-eating was likely a viable alternative to hunting and/or scavenging ungulates due to dental disease and/or limited prey availability.
Despite legal protection, deliberate killing by local people is one of the major threats to the conservation of lions and other large carnivores in Africa. Addressing this problem poses particular challenges, mainly because it is difficult to uncover illicit behavior. This article examined two groups of Maasai warriors: individuals who have killed African lions (Panthera leo) and those who have not. We conducted interviews to explore the relationship between attitudes, intentions and known lion killing behavior. Factor analysis and logistic regression revealed that lion killing was mainly determined by: (a) general attitudes toward lions, (b) engagement in traditional customs, © lion killing intentions to defend property, and (d) socio-cultural killing intentions. Our results indicated that general attitudes toward lions were the strongest predictor of lion killing behavior. Influencing attitudes to encourage pro-conservation behavior may help reduce killing.
- Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology
- Published over 2 years ago
Although Africa has many threatened species and biological hot spots, there are few citizen science schemes, particularly in rural communities, and there has been limited evaluation of existing programs. We engaged traditional Maasai warriors (pastoralist men aged 15 to 35) in community-based conservation and demographic monitoring of a persecuted African lion (Panthera leo) population. Through direct engagement, we investigated whether a citizen science approach employing local warriors, who had no formal education, could produce reliable data on the demographics, predation, and movements of a species with which their communities have been in conflict for generations. Warriors were given benefits such as literacy training and skill enhancement and engaged in the monitoring of the lions. The trained warriors reported on lion sign across an area nearly 4000 km(2) . Scientists worked together with the warriors to verify their reports and gather observations on the lion population. Using the verified reports and collected observations, we examined our scientific knowledge relative to the lion population preceding and during the citizen science program. Our observations showed that data quality and quantity improved with the involvement and training of the participants. Furthermore, because they engaged in conservation and gained personal benefits, the participants came to appreciate a species that was traditionally their foe. We believe engaging other local communities in biodiversity conservation and monitoring may be an effective conservation approach in rural Africa.