Perception and attitude of pastoralists on livestock-wildlife interactions around Awash National Park, Ethiopia: implication for biodiversity conservation


Abstract Introduction Pastoral livestock share grazing areas and watering points with wildlife around the protected areas in Eastern Africa. This causes a high degree of livestock-wildlife interactions, leading to conflicts between the local community and park staff. Thus, understanding the perception and attitude of local people towards livestock-wildlife interaction is very crucial to optimize both livestock production and biodiversity conservation in protected areas. This paper presents the perception and attitude of local community towards livestock-wildlife interactions around Awash National Park (ANP), Ethiopia. Methods Interview to 180 randomly selected households, representing Afar, Ittu, and Kereyu ethnic groups living around ANP, was conducted from August to December 2015 using a semi-structured questionnaire. Data on community attitude towards wildlife, livestock production systems, and its constraints were collected through focus group- and key informant discussions. We used ordinal logistic regression model to analyze community attitude towards wildlife conservation. Results Respondents ranked feed shortage (0.38), lack of water (0.32), and climate change (0.30) as the major constraints of livestock production around ANP. A high degree of conflict (79%; χ 2 = 24.09; df = 2; P = 0.000) between the local community and park was recorded. About 73% of the households would be ready to live in harmony with the park. However, 85% of park staff considered the community as a threat, due to high livestock grazing pressure and illegal park resource use. Overall, community attitude towards wildlife significantly varied (χ 2 = 46.28; df = 4; P = 0.00) particularly due to educational level (χ 2 = 15.96; df = 6; P = 0.014), income source (χ 2 = 16.77; df = 2; P = 0.00), and distance of household from ANP (χ 2 = 20.51; df = 4; P = 0.00). The logistic regression model revealed that ethnic group, education, benefit obtained, and conflict with the park were significantly associated with attitude towards wildlife (χ2 15 = 76.62; df = 16; P = 0.000). Conclusions Majority of respondents showed positive attitude towards wildlife, implying a better chance to mobilize the community for conservation activities in the park. Thus, expansion of formal and adult education as well as livelihood diversification strategies that could benefit the pastoral community would help to improve community attitude towards wildlife so that both wildlife conservation and livestock production can be optimized around ANP

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