ABSTRACT Indigenous ecological knowledge (IEK) of the Maasai community in the context of their interaction with elephants around Masai Mara National Reserve (MMNR), Kenya is explored. Although Maasai community land sustains a huge elephant population, it is experiencing increased human-elephant conflict (HEC). Focus group discussions combined with scientifically collected data were used in assessing the relevance of IEK to elephant related ecological research. The Maasai narrated their experiences with elephants which were then formulated into hypotheses and tested scientifically by designing experiments that were monitored to prove the authenticity of IEK. Respondents had in-depth knowledge of some key ecological processes. Drunken people were more likely to be attacked by elephants, and elephant movement into adjacent group ranches increased with increasing wildebeest density. Elephants mainly raided ripe or mature crops while pupils within the elephant range performed poorly in national examinations. Based on this, there is strong evidence that IEK could be used to design sustainable conservation strategies. It is recommended that understanding of IEK in mitigating HEC and its subsequent integration into HEC decision support system is necessary in order to resolve conflicts.
Cite this paper
Sitati, N. & Ipara, H. (2012). Indigenous Ecological Knowledge of a Human-Elephant Interaction in Transmara District, Kenya: Implications for Research and Management. Advances in Anthropology, 2, 107-111. doi: 10.4236/aa.2012.23012.
 Ashenafi, Z. T., & Leader-Williams, N. (2005). Indigenous common property management in the central highlands of Ethiopia. Human Ecology, 33, 539-563. doi:10.1007/s10745-005-5159-9
 Donovan, D. G., & Puri, R. K. (2004). Learning from traditional knowledge of non-timber forest products: Penan Benalui and the autecology of Aquilaria in Indonesian Borneo. Ecology and Society, 9, 3.
 Hoare, R. E. (1997). The effects of interactions with humans on elephant populations of the Sebungwe region, Zimbabwe. Ph.D. Thesis, Harare: University of Zimbabwe.
 Hoare, R. E. (1999). A standardised data collection andanalysis protocol for human-elephant conflict situations in Africa. Nairobi: IUCN African Elephant Specialist Group.
 Kamonjo, N. W., Sitati, N. W., Adano, W. R., Leader-Williams, N., & Stephenson, P. J. (2007). Assessing the economic costs and benefits of maize farming in elephant ranges in Transmara District, Kenya. In M. Walpole, & M. Linkie (Eds.), Mitigating human-elephant conflict: Case studies from Africa and Asia (pp. 71-82). Cambridge: FFI Pub- lication.
 KWS (2006). Total dry season aerial counts of elephants in the Mara ecosystem. Nairobi: KWS Unpublished Report.
 Laws, R. M., Parker, I. S. C., & Johnstone, R. C. B. (1975). Elephants and habitats in North Bunyoro, Uganda. East African Wildlife Journal, 8, 163-180.
 Leader-Williams, N., Albon, S. D., & Berry, P. S. M. (1990b). Illegal exploitation of black rhinos and elephant populations: Patterns of decline, law enforcement and patrol effort in Luangwa Valley, Zambia. Journal of Applied Ecology, 27, 1055-1087.
 Melland, F. H. (1938). Elephants in Africa. London: Country Life Ltd.
 Mwathe, K. M., Ruhui, J. M., Macharia, O. K., & Warutere, J. M. (1998). Naari community fence post-project: Environmental impact assessment. The social, economic and environmental impacts of an elephant barrier on a farming community in Eastern Kenya. Unpublished Report. Nairobi: KWS Field Report.
 Ngure, N. (1995). People-elephant conflict management in Tsavo, Kenya. Pachyderm, 19, 20-26.
 Osborn, L. (1998). Ecology of crop raiding elephants. Pachyderm, 25, 39-40.
 Parker, G. E, & Osborn F. V. (2006). Investigating the potential for chilli Capsicum spp. to reduce human-wildlife conflict in Zimbabwe. Oryx, 40, 343-346. doi:10.1017/S0030605306000822
 Sam, M. K., Haizel, C., & Barnes, R. F. W. (1997). Crop raiding by elephants during the 1996 harvest season in the Red Volta Valley, Upper East Region, Ghana. WWF project report. Gland: WWF.
 Siex, K. S., & Struhsaker, T. T. (1999). Colobus monkeys and coconuts: A study of perceived human-wildlife conflicts. Journal of Applied Ecology, 36, 1009-1020. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2664.1999.00455.x
 Sitati, N. W. (2007). Dry and wet season elephant survey in Transmara. WWF unpublished report. Gland: WWF.
 Sitati, N. W., & Walpole, M. J. (2006). Assessing farm-based measures for mitigating human-elephant conflict in Transmara District, Kenya. Oryx, 40, 279-286. doi:10.1017/S0030605306000834
 Sitati, N. W., Walpole, M. J., Smith, R. J., & Leader-Williams, N. (2003). Predicting spatial aspects of human-elephant conflict. Journal of Applied Ecology, 40, 667-677.
 Soule, M. E., & Gilpin, M. E. (1991). The theory of wildlife corridor capability. In A. Denis, & J. H. Richard (Eds.), Nature conservation 2: The role of corridors. Surrey Beatty & Sons.
 Sukumar, R. (1991). The management of large mammals in relation to male strategies and conflict with people. Biological Conservation, 55, 93-102. doi:10.1016/0006-3207(91)90007-V
 Sukumar, R. (1989). The Asian elephant: Ecology and management. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
 Tchamba, M. N. (1995). The problem elephants of Kaele: A challenge for elephant conservation in northern Cameroon. Pachyderm, 1, 26- 33.
 Thouless, C. R., & Dyer, A. (1992). Radio-tracking of elephants in Laikipia District, Kenya. Pachyderm, 15, 34-39.
 Western, D. (1994). Elephant and people: Statement by the director of KWS. Swara, 29, 4-5.
 WWF (2007). Species action plan for conservation and management of African elephants. Gland: WWF International.