ESR 6:67-74 (2008)  -  doi:10.3354/esr00120

Ritual vs. retaliatory killing of African lions in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania

Dennis Ikanda1, Craig Packer2,*

1Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, Box 661, Arusha, Tanzania
2Department of Ecology, Evolution & Behavior, University of Minnesota, 1987 Upper Buford Circle, St. Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: The Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), Tanzania, is a multiple land-use area where Maasai pastoralists co-exist with large migratory herbivores and associated carnivores. Maasai retaliate against lions, leopards and hyenas that prey upon their livestock. Cattle depredation is mostly by lions and most common in grazing herds tended solely by children (rather than by warriors) and in large herds tended by few herders. Depredation on sheep and goats (shoats) is mostly by leopards and is more difficult to prevent. Across all carnivore species, nocturnal depredation is somewhat more common in smaller households. Over most of the NCA, lion killing is proportional to the amount of cattle depredation by resident lions, but nomadic lions from the Serengeti National Park appear to be killed more exclusively for cultural purposes (Ala-mayo) in the open plains. While the impact of ritual hunting on the Serengeti lion population as a whole appears to be trivial, retaliatory killing on resident lions in the NCA may intensify as the human population continues to increase.


KEY WORDS: Carnivores · Livestock husbandry · Livestock depredation · Ala-mayo · Tanzania


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Cite this article as: Ikanda D, Packer C (2008) Ritual vs. retaliatory killing of African lions in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Tanzania. Endang Species Res 6:67-74

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