Journal of
Ecology and The Natural Environment

  • Abbreviation: J. Ecol. Nat. Environ.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2006-9847
  • DOI: 10.5897/JENE
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 408

Full Length Research Paper

Attacks on humans and retaliatory killing of wild carnivores in the eastern Serengeti Ecosystem, Tanzania

Franco P. Mbise
  • Franco P. Mbise
  • Department of Biology, College of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, University of Dodoma, P. O. Box 338, Dodoma, Tanzania.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 14 July 2021
  •  Accepted: 27 September 2021
  •  Published: 30 September 2021


Attacks on humans by wild carnivores are a serious problem, especially where communities and carnivores share the same landscape. When people are injured or killed, community members commonly retaliate by killing the carnivores. Awareness of how to minimize the risk of attacks is important and dependent on an understanding of the circumstances surrounding previous attacks and communicating them back to society. A total of 180 households were randomly selected from both the Maasai and Sonjo tribes. Findings from this study are based on the reported incidences among the Maasai and the Sonjo tribes living in the eastern Serengeti. Because the Maasai tribe lives close to the Serengeti National Park, they reported a higher frequency of human attacks than the Sonjo tribe over the last 50 years. Most of the human attacks occurred in the wet season during the daytime while herding livestock. Young males from both tribes responsible for herding livestock were more vulnerable to attack by wild carnivores. Lions (Panthera leo) were responsible for most of the reported human attacks, followed by leopards (Panthera pardus) and spotted hyenas (Crocuta crocuta). Currently, the trend in human attacks by carnivores is decreasing in both tribes. It was also established that in many incidences, carnivores escaped after attacking humans. Retaliatory killings for lions were most common among the Maasai, while retaliatory killings for hyenas were most common among the Sonjo. Factors associated with these retaliatory killings were as follows: both lions and hyenas feeding on a carcass, lions being fearless of humans, hyenas being frequently seen, and hyena’s tendency to run and look back. These findings provide insight into the circumstances surrounding human attacks in the eastern Serengeti and the fate of these carnivores.


Key words: Attacks, injured, humans, killed, retaliatory killing, wild carnivore.