The Social Psychology of Human Wild Lion Conflict Mitigation: Attitudes & Behaviours in Rural Zimbabwe

Jackie Abell, James Bennett, Donna-Lynn Shepherd, Bob Mandinyenya, Courtenay Williams, Rumbi Magwiro

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


    We apply social psychology to wildlife conservation, using psychological principles to develop and assess a human-wildlife conflict mitigation programme in rural Zimbabwe. It examines the effectiveness of an intervention in redressing attitudes and behaviours to mitigate night-time conflict between rural communities and wild lions, reducing livestock losses to lions and retaliation killings of lions. Sixteen farms based in the Matetsi Conservancy, Zimbabwe, in human-wildlife conflict areas took part.
    Flashing lights were installed on their livestock kraals, matched with 16 ‘hotspot’ homesteads without lights. Numbers of attacks before and after the intervention were recorded. Camera-traps were positioned around each kraal to monitor lion activity. A conservation education programme was delivered to 67 children living in the area. Attitudes before and after the intervention were recorded using the Attitudes to Conservation and the Environment (ACE) questionnaire. The ACE comprises 20 items to measure sub-Saharan African children’s attitudes to their environment and to problem animals. Participants rated items from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Behaviours monitored through self-report. Incidences of lion attacks on livestock recorded using diaries kept by farmers before and after the intervention.
    Incidences on livestock significantly reduced in lit farms but unchanged on unlit. Attitudes to lions were 3.7 before, 4.0 immediately afterwards and 4.1, 3 months later with the difference between pre and delayed post approaching significance (p=.086). Self-reported behaviours noted improved husbandry practices.
    We conclude a multi-disciplinary approach incorporating social psychology is vital to address the human-side of wildlife conservation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusSubmitted - 1 May 2017
    EventBritish Psychological Society: Social Psychology Section Annual Conference - College Court Conference Centre, Leicester, United Kingdom
    Duration: 31 Aug 20171 Sept 2017


    ConferenceBritish Psychological Society: Social Psychology Section Annual Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    Internet address


    • human wildlife conflict mitigation
    • Zimbabwe
    • Matetsi safari area
    • lighting system
    • hotspot
    • conservation education

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
    • Psychology(all)


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