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Measuring the conservation attitudes of local communities towards the African elephant Loxodonta africana, a flagship species in the Mara ecosystem.

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Tobias Ochieng, Nyumba  ORCID logo
Elizabeth, Kimongo Nankini 
Nigel, Leader-Williams 


Gaining insights into local people's views, values and preferences for different conservation management options are increasingly gaining importance among conservationists and decision-makers. This can be achieved through the assessment and understanding of conservation attitudes and perceptions of rural communities including demographic characteristics predicting the attitudes to design and implement conservation policies in a more socially acceptable manner. In this study, we developed and validated user-friendly indices to measure attitudes towards the African elephant, a flagship species and its conservation in Trans Mara District. An iterative item reliability analysis was executed on household data from a random sample of 367 respondents using Cronbach's Alpha in SPSS. Results yielded two indices; (i) Elephant Attitude Index (EAI); and (ii) Maasai Mara National Reserve Attitude Index (MAI). The EAI had a Cronbach's Alpha coefficient of 0.73 while the MAI had a Cronbach's Alpha coefficient of 0.77. Data analysis revealed that (i) location of residence; (ii) age of respondent; (iii) number of income sources; (iv) gender of the respondent; and (v) benefit reception were the main determinants of EAI and MAI in TM. Our attitude indices can assist conservation practitioners and decision-makers to prioritise resources, on the assumption that high-scoring individuals are more likely to participate in conservation initiatives. We encourage making available different sources of income for residents and working towards improving the involvement of younger people and women in conservation activities in TM.



Animals, Attitude, Conservation of Natural Resources, Ecosystem, Elephants, Humans, Kenya, Rural Population

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PLoS One

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Public Library of Science (PLoS)