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Factors affecting local ecological knowledge and perceived threat to the kori bustard (Ardeotis kori struthiunculus) in the Serengeti Ecosystem, Northern Tanzania

Vol. 6(6), pp. 459-467, June 2014
DOI: 10.5897/IJBC2014.0719
Article Number: C40FFE345313
ISSN 2141-243X
Copyright © 2014
Author(s) retain the copyright of this article
International Journal of Biodiversity
and Conservation
Full Length Research Paper
Factors affecting local ecological knowledge and
perceived threat to the kori bustard (Ardeotis kori
struthiunculus) in the Serengeti Ecosystem,
Northern Tanzania
Emmanuel Clamsen Mmassy1 and Eivin Røskaft2*
1Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (TAWIRI), PO Box 661, Arusha, Tanzania.
2Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), N-7491, Trondheim, Norway.
Received 21 April, 2014; Accepted 23 May, 2014
This study examines local tribal knowledge regarding the ecology of the kori bustard (Ardeotis kori
struthiunculus) and assessed threats to this species in Northern Serengeti communities. A picture of an
indigenous kori bustard was presented to survey participants in villages in the study area. General
knowledge on the kori bustard was tested in relation to the bird’s general habitat, nesting habitat, food
and number of individuals in groups. Of the survey respondents, 56.7% knew the name of the kori
bustard and were therefore included in further analyses. The Maasai tribe showed the greatest
knowledge of the species, with 98% of individuals identifying the species correctly. Additionally, male
survey participants were generally more knowledgeable than females. No differences among age
groups or individuals with different education levels were found, suggesting that there is a local
knowledge transfer of the species to all age groups regardless of educational level of respondents and
that education is not an obstacle to the local knowledge. The study concludes that nature of activities
e.g. nomadic and social life, gender and tribes were contributing factors to the knowledge of the kori
bustard in the northern Serengeti.
Key words: Local knowledge, kori bustards, Serengeti ecosystem.
The study of local ecological knowledge (LEK) has been
growing as a scientific field in recent years, partly due to
the recognition that such knowledge can contribute to the
management of various ecosystems and ecological
processes, the conservation of biodiversity and rare and
threatened species, and the sustainable use of natural
resources (Berkes, 1999; Colding, 1998; Johannes,
1998). LEK is the informal, often explicit knowledge held
by a specific group of people about their local
ecosystems and includes the interplay between
organisms and their environment (Olsson and Folke,
2001). LEK differs from ‘traditional’ ecological knowledge
*Corresponding author. E-mail:
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460 Int. J. Biodivers. Conserv.
(TEK) in the sense that the former has been derived from
more recent human-environment interactions (e.g. those
occurring within a few generations) rather than being
embedded in deeper cultural practices (Ohmagari and
Berkes, 1997).
Analyses of many LEK systems have identified various
components of LEK, including a component related to
local observational knowledge of species and other
environmental phenomena, a practical component related
to resource use activities, and a belief component related
to how people fit into or relate to ecosystems (Berkes et
al., 2000). The understanding of LEK plays a major role
in aiding and promoting the improvement of scientific
research and the management of ecosystems (Berkes et
al., 2000).
The study of LEK began with species identification and
classification (ethnobiology) and evolved to include the
study of people’s understanding of ecological processes
and their relationships with the environment (Berkes,
1999; Williams and Baines, 1993). Not all traditional
practices and belief systems are ecologically adaptive,
and they can change with time. Acknowledging the
importance of LEK is commonly assumed, incorrectly,
that indigenous peoples sustainably conserve natural
resources (Redford and Sanderson, 2000). Local
traditional knowledge has showed an intergenerational
decline and may vary with age and gender (Gómez-
Baggethun et al., 2010; Law et al., 2010; Quinlan and
Quinlan, 2007).
Local ecological knowledge about medicinal plants and
the identification of traditional foods appears to decrease
with increasing formal education (Giovannini et al., 2011;
Wester and Youngvanit, 1995). Thus, formal education
may contribute to the loss of local traditional knowledge
because it reduces the time and number of opportunities
that children have to attain local traditional knowledge
and skills from their elders (Heckler, 2002; Luoga et al.,
Local knowledge and its applications seem to be
declining owing to a combination of factors, including loss
of local language, land use change, inaccessibility to
traditional resources due to conservation programmes,
industrialization and globalization, and the transition to
market economies (Benz et al., 2000; Kingsbury, 2001;
Turner and Turner, 2008). Because this loss of know-
ledge affects local communities in developing countries,
the remaining local ecological knowledge must be
safeguarded through a number of methods, including
environmental policies designed to protect its pools
(Montes, 2010).
Local ecological knowledge can be maintained in
traditional communities by controlling and monitoring
access to certain sites and resource use. This may result
in improvements of the knowledge base, which can then
be used to respond adaptively to change in certain
environments. Through the use of particular local know-
ledge, a community may benefit by securing employment
and education through conservation experiments and/or
natural resource management in a specific project area
that is related to local ecosystem conservation (Drew and
Henne, 2006). Indigenous people are frequently experts
on their local ecosystems and can have a broad
spectrum of indigenous knowledge. Rapid local language
shift to the global language might however, make them
lose this intellectual knowledge. Many cultures have
disappeared as a result of indigenous people exhausting
the environment’s ability to sustain their population
(Mazzocchi, 2006). Further-more, such disappearance of
indigenous culture has been exacerbated by European
colonization, which has eroded and destroyed much
traditional knowledge by replacing it with Western
educational and cultural systems (Mazzocchi, 2006);
economic development and the transition to market
economies (Godoy et al., 2005); loss of access to
traditional resources due to conservation policies; and
more generally, the forces of industrialization and
globalization (Turner and Turner, 2008). Local and
traditional ecological knowledge is increasingly
recognized as an important component of scientific
research, conservation, and resource management,
especially where LEK and TEK fill gaps in the scientific
literature or offer a critical source of basic environmental
data (Thornton and Scheer, 2012).
Gathering scientific information regarding local
ecological knowledge of kori bustard has never been
carried out in the Serengeti ecosystem. In this study we
found that 1) illegal hunting among local people for food
exists, 2) kori bustards are rarely observed indicating a
low population size, and 3) that their nesting habitat
outside the national park has been turned into agricultural
land and human settlements. Thus it is obvious that the
species is in unimaginable threat. The outcome of our
study has provided us an image that the species needs to
be closely monitored and that local communities/tribes
who are more knowledgeable on kori bustards are to be
fully involved in conservation of the species to provide
their ideas to the management authority on how to
conserve this species in the future.
Study species
Although kori bustards are used by tribes in the Serengeti
ecosystem as a source of food in household diets
(Magige et al., 2009), there is no clear evidence that the
species is used in other social cultural, or economic
contexts. In Tanzania, the current range of the kori
bustard is restricted to the northern plains of the
Serengeti and the Tarangire-Manyara ecosystems. The
range of this sub-species where it was historically found
(in parts of East Africa, Somalia, Sudan and Ethiopia) has
been shrinking, such that its current range is much
smaller than its historical range (Hallager and Boylan,
The kori bustard is listed by CITES (Appendix II) as
near threatened (Birdlife-International, 2009; 2013) and
faces many threats. The main threats to the kori bustard
are human-induced, including habitat destruction through
agricultural development, as well as shrub encroachment
caused by overgrazing and subsistence hunting (Magige
et al., 2009; Senyatso et al., 2013). The poison used to
control locusts is toxic to birds and may also be affecting
the kori bustard populations (Barnes, 2000). The kori
bustard is an omnivorous species, and its food sources
are expected to be quite diverse. However, according to
Arlott (1996), kori bustards consume mostly insects and
plant material in their grassland habitat. The population
status of this species and its population trends remain
unknown, both in Tanzania and the entire East Africa.
Thus, local understanding of ecology and threat of the
kori bustard may provide inputs that management
authorities can apply for sustainable management of
areas where the small range of species occurs.
Since people in the northern Serengeti live a traditional
life style that includes hunting wildlife for food and as a
source of income, we hypothesised that people in our
study area might have LEK of the kori bustard (Ardeotis
kori struthiunculus). We also hypothesised that there
would be differences in local knowledge of this species’
ecology among different tribes. We further hypothesised
that the threats faced by the kori bustard are well
understood by the people of the northern Serengeti
because they live in the villages adjacent to the Serengeti
National Park where the species is found. Scientific
information about this species’ ecology and the factors
influencing the major threats to the species is limited. The
goal of our study was to provide information on whether
the species needs to be monitored, which includes the
possibility of local community-based monitoring because
the species utilizes habitat found on communal lands.
The outcomes of the study could also help management
authorities consider impacts to this species when
developing various conservation programs in the
communities surrounding protected areas. Local
knowledge could provide broad insights into kori bustard
conservation that could be used by management
authorities when developing management plans.
Study area
The mean temperatures in the study area range between 15 and
27°C, while the mean annual seasonal rainfall varies from 1,050 to
1200 mm (Sinclair et al., 2000). According to United Republic of
Tanzania (URT) (2003, 2013), the study area has a total population
of approximately 40,000 people.
The Serengeti ecosystem covers an area of 25,000 km2 and
straddles the border of northern Tanzania and southern Kenya. The
ecosystem comprises several different conservation areas (Figure
1) that harbour a variety of animals such as wildebeests
(Connochaetes taurinus), antelopes, carnivores and birds. A yearly
migration of animals including wildebeests occurs in the area
Mmassy and Røskaft 461
(Maddock, 1979) of which during the northern migration, the
wildebeests often travel out of the protected area and enter
unprotected areas with comparatively high human population
densities. During the migration season, kori bustards are
associated with the migrating animals and may be vulnerable to
snares used by poachers to catch large animals. The villages found
along the Serengeti ecosystem are fairly typical of the region, in
that, hunting of wildlife for food is still a common practice (Holmern
et al., 2007).
Study communities
The Northern Serengeti is highly diverse in terms of ethnicity. Over
20 tribes live in the area. We were able to interview individuals from
the major and the largest tribes, including migrants. Individuals from
the Meru, Chaga, Iraq, Mbulu and Sonjo tribes are immigrants to
the northern Serengeti. Agro-pastoralism plays a major role in the
livelihoods of these tribes. Although we interviewed people from 18
tribes in the selected villages, we used only the data from the three
largest tribes (Maasai, Kurya and Ikoma) in our analyses because
these tribes had sufficient number of survey respondents. There are
no inter-tribal conflicts among the interviewed tribes; however, the
health of the ecosystem suffers due to conflicts between
conservationists and local communities. The conflict stems from the
conservation and management authority prohibition of access to
natural resources for many tribes living in the area (Kideghesho et
al., 2007). The Maasai are nomadic, herding their livestock to green
pastures and water. The Ikoma have traditionally hunted wild
animals as a source of income and food, while the Kurya have
traditionally been primarily farmers, but practice hunting activities to
some degree.
Generally, the people in the region are poor (US $150-200 per
annum). Their annual incomes, which are generally earned through
agro-pastoralism, are far lower than Tanzania’s average per capita
income of US $280 (WB, 2003). To compensate for the hardship of
earning a low income, many communities in the area engage in
illegal hunting and charcoal burning (Kideghesho, 2010). With the
increasing rates of human and livestock population growth in the
region, these activities have caused ecosystem fragmentation,
natural resource depletion and habitat destruction (Kideghesho,
2010), including the extinction of bird species of conservation
Data collection using questionnaires
The study site was selected as an example of the type of socio-
ecological context that occurs where communal areas are adjacent
to protected areas. However, the site was also selected because of
the conflict between local communities and management authorities
towards access to wildlife resources.
Fieldwork was conducted in 13 villages of the northern Serengeti
that were selected prior to beginning of the survey in October,
2011. The villages were selected based on their proximity to
protected areas (Loliondo Game Controlled Area, Ikorongo Game
Reserve, Ikona Open Area, and Serengeti National Park), where
we expected the kori bustard to be frequently observed.
The closed-ended question interviews (Newell, 1993) were
conducted in Kiswahili with the aid of well-trained local translators
who translated Kiswahili into the local tribal languages because
most elders knew only their tribal language. The use of local
translators increased the number of people who could be
interviewed, because the translators could communicate with
respondents in their local language. Furthermore, because the
respondents live adjacent to the protected areas and illegal
subsistence hunting of wildlife still occurs, they were initially
concerned about talking with us because they thought we were
462 Int. J. Biodivers. Conserv.
Figure 1. Map of the Serengeti ecosystem showing the locations of surveyed villages in the northern Serengeti.
Figure 2. Kori bustard on the Serengeti plains (photo: E.
wildlife officers who wanted to investigate poaching including the
kori bustard. The current proposed road construction from Mto wa
Mbu to Musoma town (Fyumagwa et al., 2013) was another barrier
to recruiting survey participants, as some people thought we were
environmentalists or conservationists who wanted to convince the
local people to oppose the proposed road construction. This
problem was resolved by the village leaders who convened a
village meeting where he expressed our aim to interview people in
the area.
During the survey, a picture of the indigenous kori bustard
(Figure 2) was shown to the participants. All respondents were
between 18 and 85 years of age and were able to recognise the
picture as a bird. However, not all respondents were able to identify
the species. Face-to-face interviews were conducted in which the
respondents were asked different questions after identifying the
picture of the bird as kori bustard (Mmassy and Røskaft, 2013). A
total of 330 individuals were randomly picked from households in
the selected villages, of which 197 individuals (Table 1) were able
to identify the kori bustard by looking at the picture. We stratified
our sample of interview respondents based on tribe, gender, age
and education level to test for species knowledge.
In our analyses, we included only the three most common tribes
(Maasai, Ikoma and Kurya) and 25 individuals from a combination
of other smaller tribes (Luo, Chaga, Jita, Iraq, Mbulu, Meru, Natta,
Maragoti, Mungurumi, Zanaki, Ikizu, Mwira, Sukuma, Isenye, Sonjo)
who identified the kori bustard correctly.
Mmassy and Røskaft 463
Table 1. Knowledge variables related to kori bustard biology derived from the responses of interview participants and the
validation of their knowledge using literature.
Variable Correct knowledge Incorrect knowledge No. of respondents
How often do you see the
species Rarely: 80.6% Frequently: 19.4% 191
Population size Small: 91.0% Large: 9.0% 162
Group size 1-2 individuals: 66.8% >3 individuals: 33.2% 129
Nesting habitat Open grasslands 90.5% Mixed woodlands 9.5% 137
insects, reptiles, small
mammals, seeds, and
roots 90%
insects, reptiles, small
mammals, seeds, and
roots 10%
Threats Illegal hunting 77.6% Other, such as accidents,
22.4% 98
Sources: Birdlife-International, 2008; Hallager, 2012; Harrison et al., 1997. Respondents who provided a correct answer were
designated as having correct knowledge.
Table 2. Analysis of the general knowledge of the kori bustard among people of the northern Serengeti in relation to gender, tribe,
educational level and age groups.
Constant/independent Dependent variable/general knowledge (%)
Poor Week Average Good Very good Total χ² =; p =
Gender Male 35.7 7.1 22.0 24.7 10.6 255 19.17; 0.002
Female 62.7 4.0 14.7 14.7 4.0 75
Kurya 83.5 5.8 4.9 4.9 1.0 103
184.1; 0.000
Maasai 2.8 5.6 27.1 38.3 26.2 107
Ikoma 36.8 8.4 31.6 23.2 0.0 95
Others 56.0 4.0 12.0 24.0 4.0 25
No or primary
education 40.7 7.0 20.5 22.3 9.5 273
2.298; 0.807
education 47.4 3.5 19.3 22.8 7.0 57
14-45 years 42.9 5.1 19.8 23.0 9.2 217
6.118; 0.295
Above 45
years 39.8 8.8 21.2 21.2 8.8 113
The respondents were asked various questions about the
species, such as how often the bird was observed, the habitats in
which it was most frequently observed, the species’ population size,
why the bird preferred to live in the habitat where it is observed,
how many individuals were observed at a time per group, where it
placed its nests, why it uses a particular breeding habitat, the food
source of the species, and threats to the species.
Local people in the Serengeti ecosystem could identify the
species to the genus level (bustard). The identification to the genus
level, that is, bustard, was done following Balmford et al. (2002),
since mammals and birds need genus level identification (e.g.,
‘rabbit’). We grouped some items of knowledge that varied among
only a small number of respondents. For example, rodents and
other small mammals listed as food sources were recorded as
mammals, while all types of reptiles (snakes and lizards) were
recorded as reptiles. Seeds, flowers, leaves, fruits and roots were
recorded in a single category as plant materials. All woodland,
forest and shrub land habitats were combined and designated as
mixed woodlands, while open grassland was retained as a separate
category. Frequency of observation of the species was recorded as
two categories: observed daily (at least once per week or more)
and observed rarely (less than once per week). Information on food
availability, safety from predators and the use of different habitats
was separated into two categories: food availability and safety from
non-human predators and hunters. Species occurrence was
categorised as a single individual, two individuals, or greater than
two (3-20) individuals.
The information provided by the respondents was
assessed/analyzed and compared to information from various
literature sources (Table 1) to validate the respondents’ knowledge
as correct or incorrect (Table 1). Respondents who provided correct
answers were designated having correct knowledge and those who
could not provide correct answer were designated providing
incorrect knowledge (Table 1). The six knowledge variables were
thereafter pooled and varied between 0 and 6. Individuals with
knowledge for 0 or 1 of the variables were given a value of 1 (poor),
followed by those who had knowledge of 2 variables (weak), those
who had knowledge of 3 (average), those who had knowledge of 4
(good), and those who had knowledge of 5-6 variables (very good)
(Table 2).
464 Int. J. Biodivers. Conserv.
Statistical analysis
The information included in the analyses was collected through
questionnaire surveys that were coded and entered into a
computer. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS),
version 16, manufactured by SPSS Inc., was used for the analyses.
Chi square analyses were primarily used to calculate the
percentages of respondents at a significance level of p = 0.05.
Of the individuals interviewed, 59.7% (N = 330) correctly
identified the picture as a kori bustard, while 40.3% (N =
133) were unable to identify the species. The Maasai
tribe was the tribe with the highest level of knowledge of
the species, with 97% of individuals identifying the
species correctly (N = 107). However, only 66% of the
interviewed individuals from the Ikoma tribe (N = 95) and
18% from the Kurya tribe (N = 103) were able to identify
the kori bustard from the picture. Among the other
surveyed tribes, 44% of the individuals surveyed were
able to identify the kori bustard correctly (N = 25). The
difference among tribes in identifying the kori bustard was
highly significant (χ² = 139.7, df = 3, P< 0.001). There
was a highly significant difference between the genders,
with males correctly identifying the bird more often than
females (χ² = 17.88, df = 1, P< 0.000). In contrast, there
were no significant differences in ability to identify the bird
among age groups or individuals with different education
levels (χ² = .848, df= 1, P = .357; χ² = .477, df = 1, P =
.490, respectively).
Generally, most of the interviewed individuals knew the
kori bustard well, and they displayed a high level of
knowledge of the species with regards to frequency of
observation, population size, group size, nesting habitat,
food sources and threats to the species (Table 1). The
Maasai tribe showed a high level of knowledge of the
biology of the kori bustard overall, with 74.5% of the
respondents showing good to very good knowledge of
the bird. The second most knowledgeable tribe was the
Ikoma, where 54.8% of individuals exhibited good to very
good knowledge. The Kurya tribe was the least
knowledgeable, with only 5.9% of the respondents having
good to very good knowledge (Table 2; χ2 = 46.8, df = 12,
P< 0.000). Men had significantly more knowledge than
women (Table 2), but there were no detected differences
in knowledge with regards to the age or education level of
the respondent (Table 2).
A linear regression analysis with general knowledge as
the dependent variable and gender and tribe (the two
variables that were significant in the analyses described
above) as independent variables explained 8.8% of the
variation in knowledge (r² = 0.088). The results showed
that, in general, tribe (Beta = 0.194, T = 3.611, P<
0.0001) and gender (Beta = 0.191, t = -3.558, P <.0001)
independently explained some of the variation in
knowledge of kori bustard ecology (ANOVA; F = 15.685,
P< 0.000).
The majority of the interview participants from tribes in
the northern Serengeti knew the kori bustard and showed
good knowledge of the bird’s general ecology. The
overall good knowledge of members of the Maasai and
Ikoma tribes on the biology of and threats to the kori
bustard may be due to the nature of the activities (hunting
and nomadic migration) that have been practiced by
these tribes since historical times. Given that the Maasai
tribe is pastoralist and nomadic in nature, its members
are likely to encounter this species frequently (Mmassy
and Røskaft, 2013). The knowledge and understanding of
kori bustard ecology within the Ikoma tribe may be due to
their hunting practices and the inheritance of hunting
knowledge from their ancestors, because hunting has
been an integral part of life in Serengeti for thousands of
years (Holmern, 2010). The Ikoma have traditionally been
a hunting tribe that collects eggs from game birds
(Magige et al., 2009) and hunts wild animals for food and
income (Barnett, 2000). This type of practice could have
increased their knowledge of a species like the kori
Male respondents generally showed better knowledge
of kori bustard biology and were better able to identify the
bird from a picture. This result may reflect the division of
household tasks in the villages in this study. Males
conduct outdoor activities, while females practice more
indoor activities (Mmassy and Røskaft, 2013; Røskaft et
al., 2004). According to Pfeiffer and Butz (2005), Maasai
women are responsible for taking care of domestic
animals in small confined areas around their homes,
while males graze herds of cattle across large
geographical areas.
Females are frequently less knowledgeable about
wildlife, including birds around the world (Kideghesho et
al., 2007; Mmassy and Røskaft, 2013; Røskaft et al.,
2007). However, ethnobiological research suggests that
women are more knowledgeable about medicinal plants
and small mammals because they are more engaged in
healing practices and the collection of food (Letsela et al.,
2003). This type of knowledge can, on the other hand,
vary with geographical location, social status, ethnicity,
occupation and experience (Heckler, 2002). Therefore,
we suggest that the different societal roles of the two
genders in our study may have resulted in greater
knowledge of birds among men (Røskaft et al., 2004).
Formal education is not necessarily a prerequisite for
having local knowledge of a certain place. In fact,
research in the fields of ethnobiology, natural food
identification and ornithology has revealed variation in
local knowledge between people with a formal education
and those without education. In this respect, educated
people might be less knowledgeable than uneducated
ones (Giovannini et al., 2011; Mmassy and Røskaft,
2013). In our study, we found that the ability of
respondents to identify the kori bustard was similar
without considering the level of education. This suggests
that LEK of kori bustard has been shared among the
indigenous people of all age groups and education levels
in the study area. Again if the kori bustard has been used
as food source in the study area it is possible for almost
every individual to acquire some knowledge of the
species. The yearly association of the kori bustard with
the animal migration (wildebeest) may also have
contributed to the increased identification knowledge of
the inhabitants.
Most respondents displayed correct knowledge (accor-
ding to our comparison with literature sources) of the kori
bustard by stating that it was rarely observed in the
Serengeti ecosystem. These infrequent observations of
the species may indicate a declining population or low
population density or both. According to respondents, the
rarity of this species might be due to habitat loss as also
stated by Hallanger and Boylan (2004) and/or being
hunted for food (Magige et al., 2009). According to
Hallager and Boylan (2004), both subspecies of kori
bustards are facing an uncertain future and birds are
absent in areas where they were previously found.
However, a population trend for this species was not
available at the time of this study because the species’
population has not yet monitored in the study area. The
range of the kori bustard is much smaller than it was a
few years ago due to the fact that the kori bustard is
presently declining throughout its range (Hallager and
Boylan, 2004). This trend is occurring in the northern
Serengeti, where people reported that the species is
rarely observed, as there is an increase in human
population and the demand of resources in the area. As
has been reported in other parts of southern Africa
(Hallager, 2012), the rarity of the species in the study
area may probably be due to rapid human population
growth and activities associated with development.
Given that the gathering of eggs from most large
grassland birds, including kori bustards, is tradition
among tribes living close to Serengeti National Park
(Magige et al., 2009), it would be possible for the tribes to
develop accurate knowledge of the decline of the
species, even though there are no existing data for the
Serengeti population.
In our study area, there was a high level of knowledge
on the nesting and feeding habitats of the kori bustard.
Local knowledge was consistent with the literature, which
shows that the kori bustard nests in grasslands (Harrison
et al., 1997). It is clear that LEK can strengthen conser-
vation programs by providing information on a given
species (Drew, 2005). Some studies have suggested that
local people’s knowledge have been used as input for
designing and applying management plans for sus-
tainable development, especially in protected areas
(Agrawal, 2000; Papageorgiou and Vogiatzakis, 2006). In
the case of the kori bustard in the Serengeti,
management authorities must work with local people in
order to achieve successful conservation of the kori
bustard (Ghimire and Pimbert, 1997).
Mmassy and Røskaft 465
The most serious threat to the kori bustard in the
northern Serengeti, according to the respondents in this
study, is illegal hunting. This result may act as a
challenge to management authorities to take appropriate
action because the management authority has never
been informed about the presence of illegal hunting of
kori bustards. The threats to the kori bustard may be
more serious than previously thought, given that its
population size is not known and, according to this study,
the bird is now rarely seen in the Serengeti ecosystem.
The respondents claimed that the greatest threats to the
kori bustard are from the hunting of these birds for food.
Bird conservation has been strongly dependent on the
available biological information (Filion, 1987). The LEK
presented by respondents will largely help in the
development of conservation priority strategies and
implementation of the species conservation program. The
outcome of a study of the species will give information
whether the species needs to be monitored, including
local community-based monitoring as the species utilize
communal lands. It might also help the management
authority to take into account this important species when
developing various conservation programs on
communities surrounding protected areas. Such local
knowledge might provide broad insight into management
authorities when developing aspects of the species
management plan. LEK of a species matters as different
local knowledge can be shared between stakeholders
which might lead to an extensive knowledge of a species
in its surroundings
Local ecological knowledge can help traditional
community-based systems control and monitor access to
sites and resources, thereby protecting natural resources.
To conserve A. kori struthiunculus for future generations,
we recommend additional research on this species. In
particular, information is needed on population status,
threats (apart from hunting for food) and ecological
requirements. Additionally, public education would help
prevent degradation of this species’ habitat and minimize
illegal hunting, and could be effective measures for
preventing further population declines.
Conflict of Interests
The author(s) have not declared any conflict of interests.
We express our sincere thanks to the Government of
Norway, Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their financial
support through an IPBES (Intergovernmental Platform of
Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) grant, without which
466 Int. J. Biodivers. Conserv.
this study would not have been possible. We are very
grateful to Dr. Robert Fyumagwa, Director of the
Serengeti Wildlife Research Centre, for logistic support
and to Mr. Noel Massawe for field assistance during the
questionnaire survey. Thanks are also due to the Director
General of TAWIRI, Dr. Simon Mduma, and to the
Commission for Science ant Technology, Tanzania
(COSTECH) for granting permission to conduct such a
unique type of study. Finally we want to acknowledge two
anonymous reviewers who’s commends improved this
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... In Burkina Faso, studies have revealed that the main factors correlated with large bird extinction or decline in protected areas were hunting, habitat degradation and fragmentation due to intensive cattle grazing, wood cutting and farming (Thiollay, 2006). A similar situation was observed in the Serengeti ecosystem where the kori bustard population is declining due to habitat degradation and hunting (Mmassy & Røskaft, 2014). ...
... According to studies by Frith (1973) and Isakov (1974) in Australia and India, intensive land-use practices have been part of Ardeotis australis' decline in parts of Australia, as well as the decline of Otis tarda in Europe. The few individuals observed in the Serengeti grass plains may be connected to intensive land-use practices in adjacent communities, as well as hunting (Mmassy & Røskaft, 2014). We must emphasize, however, that there is no previous information available about kori bustard densities in the Serengeti grass plains or other areas in Tanzania with which to compare. ...
The kori bustard (Ardeotis kori struthiunculus) is indigenous to grasslands and lightly wooded savannahs of southern and eastern Africa. The species is categorized as near threatened in its entire range due to anthropogenic factors and low reproductive rates. The aim of this study was to analyse the impact of grass colour, grass height, season and location on the density/occurrence of this bird species in the Serengeti grass plains, Tanzania. Data were collected from January 2014 to June 2015 using transect counts in four seasons: (i) short dry, (ii) long rain, (iii) long dry and (iv) short rain seasons, respectively. The mean density of kori bustard in the grass plains was 0.25 AE 1.01 per 0.2 km 2 with near-significant differences among the study sites. The occurrence of kori bustard was high in the medium height (11–30 cm) during the long rain and short dry seasons. The kori bustard density is relatively low, and the distribution varies with grass height and season. We suggest that conservation efforts should be directed at preventing its local extinction by protecting the habitat from excessive human activities, such as livestock grazing and illegal offtake.
... Local ecological knowledge (LEK) is defined by Berkes et al. (2000: 24) as "a cumulative body of knowledge, practice, and belief, evolving by adaptive processes and handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationship of living beings (including humans) with one another and with their environment". Its levels within a community are therefore dependent upon demographic factors like gender, age, kinship relations, ethnicity, position in a social network and distance from natural resources (NRs) or cities (Quinlan and Quinlan, 2007;Souto and Ticktin, 2012;Mmassy and Roskaft, 2014). LEK is consequently shared over time among users of a particular resource (Agrawal, 1995;Berkes et al., 2000;Kota and Shackleton, 2015). ...
... Mutangadura et al., 1999;Pattanayak and Sills, 2001;De Waal and Whiteside, 2003;Drimie and Grandure, 2005;Paumgarten, 2005;Torell et al., 2006;Kaschula, 2008) and the increased use of NRs should boost the levels of LEK (e.g. Uma Shankaar et al., 2004;Mmassy and Roskaft, 2014). Godoy et al. (1998) found that the sale of forest goods is associated with superior knowledge of wildlife than those selling crops or who are engaged in wage labour. ...
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This study was conducted to investigate the local community ecological knowledge and the household’s tradeoff between coping strategy and natural resources management. Sixty households were purposively selected from two study sites for three household groups (10 households/group/site); non-trading, inexperienced trading, and experienced trading in South Kordofan and the Blue Nile States. The study results revealed a strongly significant difference in the distribution of LEK between trading households in the two states. The study results also showed a significant difference in the households' choice of coping strategies across LEK levels in both South Kordofan State (χ2=107.0; p<0.0001) and Blue Nile State (χ2= 1.9; p<0.001). The study concluded that trading households have superior levels of LEK in relation to non-trading households across the two states, and the level of LEK is crucial to households' choice of coping strategy in response to shocks.
... TEK is defined differently by different scholars. Mmassy and Røskaft (2014) defined TEK as 'the cumulative body of knowledge and cultural continuity of resource use held by specific groups of people and their relationship with the environment ', while Berkeset al., (1995) defined TEK as a cumulative body of knowledge and beliefs, handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationship of living beings (including humans) with one another and with their environment. In this study, TEK is used as a broader term, covering not only ecological knowledge but other knowledge and skills related to making a livelihood. ...
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The last periods have witnessed a growing research interest of Traditional Ecological knowledge (TEK), with some research focusing on its role in natural resource management. Here, we contribute to this body of knowledge by focusing on the transmission mechanisms of TEK and sustainable management of natural resources among the Lozi-speaking people of Western Province in Zambia. Although TEK plays a role in the sustainable management of natural resources, its transmission between or among generations, remains a neglected field. Using primary and secondary data sources, we found that TEK in the study area included taboos associated with the sustainable use of natural resources and traditional teachings that guided the local people as to the correct time to harvest their natural resourcesas there was evidence of plant and animal species in the study area. The study further showed various ways in which TEK is transmitted from one generation to another in the Barotse floodplain. The most prevalent mode of TEK transmission shown in the study area was found to be through informal transmission. This is because the transmission of TEK was characterised by cultural, rituals and other cultural practices such as kuloba sitaka and kufuluhela. It is through these rituals and ceremonies that TEK is transmitted. (from one generation to another in the Barotse floodplain-can be deleted). Horizontal and vertical mode of TEK transmission was also evident in the study area. This is because the most common actors in the transmission were parents who were imparting the knowledge to their children.The study, therefore, recommends more studies to be undertaken on transmission mechanisms of TEK in other tribal groupings. This is in order to help preserve
... The distribution of these sub species has recently decreased due to various anthropogenic factors, including altered land use practices [14] and illegal harvests [15][16][17][18][19]. Data on the range and habitat utilization of this species within the Serengeti ecosystem are deficient, and thus, there is a need to obtain information that is currently lacking about the seasonal movements and habitats preferred by this species for conservation measures. ...
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This study aimed to understand the movement behaviour and utilization distributions of Kori bustards in space and time in the Serengeti ecosystem. A total of 14 individuals were tracked with the aid of GPS (Geographical positioning system) satellite transmitters, and their sexes were identified using DNA analysis. A species utilization distribution was estimated using the Brownian bridge movement model (hereafter dBBMM) in which the probability of being in an area is conditioned by starting and ending (GPS) relocations. Resource selections were analysed by comparing the GPS relocations with locations randomly placed within each individual’s region of utilization in a spatio-temporal approach. Vegetation information was derived from a Serengeti GIS vegetation map and Data Centre and was reclassified as Open grassland, Dense grassland, Shrubbed grassland, Treed grassland, Shrubland, and Woodland. The Shannon diversity index for vegetation was calculated based on the original vegetation classification. Used versus non-used habitats were contrasted using a generalized linear mixed-effects model with a binomial distribution. The results indicated that males were 21.5% more mobile than females, and movements were 6.3% more diffuse during the non-breeding period compared to the breeding period (7.59 versus 7.14, respectively). Contrasting models indicated that males preferred more open grasslands during the non-breeding period and also preferred closed and shrubbed grassland during the breeding period. Females preferred more woody vegetation during the non-breeding season compared to the breeding season. The most parsimonious model indicated that females preferred to stay closer to rivers and diverse areas during the non-breeding period whereas males preferred areas that were farther from rivers and homogenous. Homogeneous areas were preferred during the breeding period, and heterogeneous areas were preferred during the non-breeding period. We conclude that the movement behaviours of Kori bustards changes with the season and habitat. Further research is needed to understand the factors driving the seasonal movement of Kori bustards in the Serengeti ecosystem.
... The future of wildlife conservation in the two study areas, as in most others, will thus most strongly depend upon the good will and support of the local communities. These can be enhanced by conservation education targeting communities living adjacent to PAs or within human-dominated pastoral systems , Gambay, 2014, Mmassy & Røskaft, 2014. ...
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Human-wildlife conflict (HWC) is a widespread and persistent challenge to conservation. However, relatively few studies have thus far examined long-term monitoring data to quantify how the type, and severity of HWC varies across species, seasons, years and ecosystems. Here, we examine human-wildlife conflicts in Tsavo and Maasai Mara, two premier wildlife conservation areas in Kenya. Using Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) data (2001-2016), we show that both the type and severity of conflicts vary among species such that the African elephant (Loxodonta africana), is the leading conflict species in both the Tsavo (64.3%, n= 30664) and Mara (47.0%, n=12487) ecosystems. The next four most notorious conflict animals, in decreasing order, are nonhuman primates (Tsavo 11.4%, n=3502; Mara 11.8%, n=1473), African buffalo (Syncerus caffer, Tsavo 5.5%, n=1676; Mara 11.3%, n=1410), lion (Panthera leo,Tsavo 3.6%, n=1107; Mara 3.3%, n=416) and spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta, Tsavo 2.4%, n=744; Mara 5.8%, n=729). We group the observed conflict incidences (n= 43,151) into four major conflict types, including crop raiding, the most common conflict type, followed by human and livestock attacks and property damage. The severity of conflicts also varies markedly seasonally and inter-annually. Crop raiding peaks in May-July, during and at the end of the wet season when crops are maturing but is lowest in November during the late dry season and beginning of the early rains. Attacks on humans and livestock increased more than other conflict types in both Tsavo (from 2001) and Mara (from 2013). Relatively fewer people in Mara (7.2%, n=901) than in Tsavo (38.2%, n = 11714) felt threatened by wildlife, suggesting that the Maasai people are more tolerant of wildlife. Minimizing HWC is tightly linked to successfully resolving the broader conservation challenges, including enhancing ecosystem connectivity, community engagement and conservation benefits to communities.
... There is growing interest in the use of LEK as a complementary tool that can be used in adaptive management and for conservation purposes (Gómez-Baggethun et al. 2010;Bender et al. 2014;Mmassy and Røskaft 2014;Macdonald et al. 2014;Leeney and Poncelet 2015;Bevilacqua et al. 2016;Frans and Augé 2016;Silvano and Begossi 2016;Zhang and Vincent 2017). Studies of local ecological knowledge may provide some biological information regarding a feature of the fish fauna that fishermen have explored at some point. ...
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... There is growing interest in the use of LEK as a complementary tool that can be used in adaptive management of protected areas (Berkes et al. 2007;Gómez-Baggethun et al. 2010;Bender et al. 2013;Mmassy and Røskaft 2014). Studies of local ecological knowledge may provide some biological information regarding a feature of the fish fauna that fishermen have explored at some point. ...
Full-text available
Under current marine environmental problems and climate change scenarios, marine reserves emerge as an alternative management tool to protect marine resources and biodiversity and local ecological knowledge (LEK) can provide a valuable base for resource management. This study approaches the current situation of artisanal fisheries in two marine protected areas (MPAs) and proposes biodiversity management scenarios, under a changing climate, using fishers’ local ecological knowledge (LEK) in two hemispheres: The Berlenga Marine Natural Reserve (Berlenga MNR), Portugal and the Marine Extractive Reserve (Resex-Mar) of Arraial do Cabo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The most targeted species of artisanal fisheries in both protected areas were reviewed for habitat use, threats and conservation status. The use of LEK is a powerful tool for developing new conservation strategies namely dealing with climate change responses of biological bioresources and fishing communities’ adaptation. Participatory management by all users in a protected area is regarded as an effective means to improve decision making among stakeholders. LEK studies of taxonomy, population dynamics, ecology, habitat use, threats, and reproduction as well as the assessment of this information for artisanal fisheries are still very scarce in Europe and Brazil. The use of LEK provides important biological information and insight into the attitudes of fishermen towards biodiversity conservation in both MPAs. Other MPAs in mainland Portugal and the Madeira and Azores Autonomic Regions are also potential areas for the administration of LEK studies. Also the social network used for communication of knowledge and information related to natural resources among different professionals and resource extractors operating in a coastal seascape is critical under a scenario of biodiversity loss and climate change impacts.
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Local and traditional ecological knowledge (LTK) is increasingly recognized as an important component of scientific research, conservation, and resource management. Especially where there are gaps in the scientific literature, LTK can be a critical source of basic environmental data; this situation is particularly apparent in the case of marine ecosystems, about which comparatively less is known than terrestrial ones. We surveyed the global literature relating to the LTK of marine environments and analyzed what knowledge has been collected and with what aims and results. A large proportion of LTK which has been documented by researchers consists of species-specific information that is important for traditional resource use. However, knowledge relating to marine ecology, environmental change, and contemporary resource management practices is increasingly emphasized in the literature. Today, marine LTK is being used to provide historical and contemporary baseline information, suggest stewardship techniques, improve conservation planning and practice, and to resolve management disputes. Still, comparatively few studies are geared toward the practicalities of developing a truly collaborative, adaptive, and resilient management infrastructure that is embracive of modern science and LTK and practices in marine environments. Based on the literature, we thus suggest how such an infrastructure might be advanced through collaborative projects and "bridging" institutions that highlight the importance of trust-building and the involvement of communities in all stages of research, and the importance of shared interest in project objectives, settings (seascapes), and outcomes.
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We examined the ability to recognise birds of conservation interest among the residents living adjacent to the Serengeti National Park. Data on ability to recognise the photo of eight selected bird species were collected in October 2011, in relation to the respondents' gender, age, tribe and education. Almost all eight species were known by at least 50% of the respondents. The men, older people between 40 and 42 years of age and the Maasai tribe showed good or perfect ability in recognising these birds. Unexpectedly, we found that people with little or no education had greater ability of recognising birds than those who received secondary and/or higher education. Given that only approximately 50% of respondents recognised the selected bird species regardless of age, education, gender and tribe, we emphasise that education programmes on wildlife resources recognition and biodiversity conservation awareness raising activities are to be introduced to communities surrounding the western Serengeti ecosystem. We discuss the results and how to incorporate traditional knowledge into natural resource management, biodiversity conservation and the management of sustainable resource use.
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Contending that a significant portion of current ethnobiological research continues to overlook cultural variation in traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and practice, this paper explores the potential impacts of gender-imbalanced research on data collection, hypothesis testing, and the formulation and application of ethnobiological inventories and theories. A multidisciplinary review of over 220 studies addresses commonly held stereotypes underlying gender-imbalanced field research and demonstrates the need for more inclusive, finely-tuned studies which disaggregate indigenous knowledge and practice by gender. The paper outlines factors underlying gender-based spatial and temporal variation in ecosystem exposure and traditional ecological knowledge in rural societies worldwide, and discusses how these factors contribute to gender differences in wild food harvesting, biodiversity and agrobiodiversity maintenance, natural resource management, and the transmission and conservation of sacred and secular customs. The review concludes with suggestions for designing and implementing more inclusive research.