Because of the costs associated with large carnivores and people sharing the same landscape, humans in most cases express low willingness to coexist with large carnivores (Lagendijk & Gusset, 2008; Woodroffe & Frank, 2005). There is a great need to involve the local people in wildlife management in areas inhabited by large carnivores, as they are negatively affected by large carnivore such as carnivore attacks on humans, livestock depredation, and crop damage (Inskip & Zimmermann, 2009; Mbise, 2021; Ronnenberg et al., 2017; Schuette et al., 2013; Yirga et al., 2014). Providing the farmers with compensations after livestock loss tends to increase their tolerance for large carnivores (Hazzah, 2007). Nevertheless, there is a need for increasing personal responsibility of farmers to take care of their livestock (Mbise et al., 2018; Rodriguez, 2007) as well as for decreasing their reliance on compensation in cases of depredation. Additionally, if local people appreciated tangible benefits related to the presence of large carnivores in their areas, rather than only complaining about the problems such as livestock depredation and human attacks, their willingness to coexist with these carnivores would be improved.
Because of human-carnivore conflicts, the need for developing good conservation strategies for their coexistence is vital for ensuring sustainable future conservation of large carnivore populations (de Souza et al., 2018; Dickman, 2010; Gehring et al., 2010; Woodroffe et al., 2005; Woodroffe & Frank, 2005). A harmonic human-carnivore coexistence would therefore sustain the future of large carnivores (Inskip & Zimmermann, 2009; Linnell et al., 2001; Woodroffe & Frank, 2005; Yirga et al., 2014). Their coexistence would be encouraged if interdisciplinary strategies, such as combinations of ecological and social approaches, were applied (Carter et al., 2012; Redpath et al., 2013; Treves & Karanth, 2003). For example, if local people’s behaviour was directed towards developing a positive attitude toward large carnivores, their willingness to coexist with carnivore species would be improved (Hazzah, 2007; Mbise & Røskaft, 2021). In such conditions, incidents involving the persecution of carnivores would decline (Treves & Karanth, 2003).
When communities coexisting with large carnivores experience an increasing rate of human attacks and livestock depredation, their attitudes toward these species tend to become more negative (Røskaft et al., 2007). These negative attitudes increase the likelihood of humans getting revenge by killing these carnivores (Abade et al., 2014; Dar et al., 2009; Hazzah, 2007; Kissui, 2008; Lindsey et al., 2013; Linnell et al., 2001; Mwakatobe et al., 2014; Romanach et al., 2007). Due to the costs associated with living and interacting with large carnivores, the livelihoods of local people are currently highly compromised (Adams & Hutton, 2007; Nana & Tchamadeu, 2014; Romanach et al., 2007; Røskaft et al., 2007; Vedeld et al., 2012). Therefore, human-carnivore conflicts are often severe in communities that share the same landscape with large carnivores (Carter et al., 2012; Holt, 2001; Lindsey et al., 2017). Although livestock keeping brings conflict between carnivores and people, it also offers the best alternative for conservation, especially around protected areas, compared to other land use activities such as farming (Vedeld et al., 2012). Conservationists have dedicated their efforts to ensure that wildlife-based tourism prevails as one of the least invasive land use activities (Songorwa, 2004; Walpole & Thouless, 2005). As a result of anthropogenic activities and human population increase, the sizes of habitats ensuring the survival of large carnivores are gradually decreasing (Croes et al., 2011; Ronnenberg et al., 2017; Schuette et al., 2013; Yirga et al., 2014).
The edges of protected areas are gradually declining as a consequence of human population increase, resulting in increased demand for lands for settlement and farming. Such demands tend to encroach on arable and fertile lands adjacent to protected areas, which negatively impacts the conservation of carnivores and other wildlife species (Nyhus & Tilson, 2010; Shivik, 2006). In such edge areas, the interactions between humans and large carnivores are frequent because of habitat deterioration and prey base depletion (Croes et al., 2011; Inskip & Zimmermann, 2009; Ronnenberg et al., 2017; Yirga et al., 2014). The correlation between the increase in human population and the extinction of large carnivores is strong in the context of African because the control of human population increase in Africa is low (Linnell et al., 2001; Songorwa, 2004). Furthermore, the use of lethal methods for controlling carnivore populations is not supervised, and in many countries, resource exploitation for sustaining people’s livelihoods is not well regulated (Linnell et al., 2001). To achieve sustainable conservation of large carnivores, harmonious coexistence between these species and people should be improved (Cocks et al., 2012; Ronnenberg et al., 2017; Schuette et al., 2013). Despite habitat loss and fragmentation, the main target should be directed towards merging human activities and conservation activities (Treves & Karanth, 2003). If local communities dealing with livestock depredation problems received conservation incentives, the level of their tolerance for carnivores would increase (Bagchi & Mishra, 2006; Yirga et al., 2014). Thus, when communities receive certain benefits related to the presence of large carnivores, their tolerance towards livestock losses is improved. However, it is difficult to find a solution beneficial for both humans and large carnivores because they share the same landscape and similar resources (McShane et al., 2011; Woodroffe et al., 2005).
This study explored the possibilities of the Maasai and the Sonjo tribes, living in eastern Serengeti, northern Tanzania, to live alongside large carnivores while strategic measures to safeguard their livestock against depredation. The study hypothesised that the Maasai tribe would show more willingness to coexist with large carnivores than the Sonjo tribe because the former tribe has a greater number of livestock than the latter as well as because they live closer to the Serengeti National Park (SNP). According to Mbise et al. (2018), even a small livestock loss in the Sonjo tribe would have a large impact on their economy, as livestock depredation costs are much higher here. In addition, Maasai are more willing to coexist with large carnivores in their areas as they have a much longer history of living in the same landscape with wildlife than the Sonjo tribe have. Finally, the willingness to live alongside large carnivores would be possible if both locals’ and government’s measures were implemented.