Human-wildlife conflict is a global issue, which has complex causes and dynamics. The communities experiencing conflict are those most able to describe their experiences and most likely to present adequate solutions. In the Kenyan Rift Valley, rapid development and subdivision has isolated many protected areas, restricting corridors and resulting in a dramatic increase in human-carnivore conflict. To better understand how people adjacent to two severely ecologically isolated protected areas perceive human-carnivore conflict, risks from wildlife, and solutions, we conducted gender-stratified participatory mapping sessions with 383 people in 17 villages in Nakuru County, Kenya. We developed a simple yet novel method of associating interview response and demographic data with spatial data while maintaining anonymity. These methods allowed for authentic discussion among the participants, as well as the production of highly localized spatial information to be used for research and management. To gain a holistic view of human-carnivore conflict issues in the region, we are incorporating these participatory mapping data with compiled data on livestock attacks, camera trap data on large carnivore fence crossings, and GPS collar data from carnivores highly implicated in conflict. We recommend integrating the spatially explicit experiences of local communities with other sources of data for use in many research and management contexts.
Christine Wilkinson is a conservation biologist and PhD candidate in the Department of Environmental Sciences, Policy, and Management. Her research interests include multidisciplinary mapping, human-wildlife conflict, carnivore movement ecology in developed landscapes, and using participatory methods for more effective and inclusive conservation outcomes. She is currently using remote sensing and GIS analyses in conjunction with participatory mapping to understand landscape permeability for spotted hyena and other carnivores, livestock predation and human risk perception, and the intersection between human and carnivore resource needs in and around Lake Nakuru National Park, Kenya.