Wildlife and Indigenous Communities in Kenya: The influence of conservation education in supporting co-existence between wildlife and a Maasai community

  • Georgina Hoare University of Edinburgh
  • Kennedy Lemayian Africa Nazarene University, Nairobi
  • Peter Higgins University of Edinburgh
  • Joshua Lowerikoi


Human-wildlife conflict in Kenya is a complex issue with environmental, social, and economic dimensions. Conservation education can raise awareness of environmental issues, by increasing knowledge, promoting positive attitudes, leading to proenvironmental behaviours. Educated youth can become ‘conservation ambassadors’ who help spread messages through the community. This qualitative study critically examined the extent to which this took place using the Wildlife Warriors Kids education programme, in areas of human-wildlife conflict in Kenya. Data were collected on students’ knowledge, attitudes and practice in three primary schools in Maasai areas; in one of these school areas, interviews and a focus group were also held with Maasai community members. The influence on students was evident, regarding knowledge about wildlife, positive attitudes and an understanding of pro-environmental behaviours. The filtration of knowledge and pro-environmental behaviours to the community level was positive but limited. Culture and human wildlife conflict were the predominant factors influencing attitudes. It was evident there is a need to include intergenerational learning, and focus attention on cultural and environmental challenges, to enhance the filtration of conservation education to the community.

Keywords: conservation education, Maasai, human wildlife conflict, indigenous knowledge, culture

Author Biographies

Georgina Hoare, University of Edinburgh

Georgina Kate Hoare (UK) did her MSc at the University of Edinburgh in Outdoor Environmental Sustainability Education and spent a year in Kenya doing research for this project. To reduce bias and develop positive relationships in this study, Georgina Hoare lived within the community, integrated by staying with them, going to cultural ceremonies and spoke the Kenyan language of Kiswahili. 

Kennedy Lemayian, Africa Nazarene University, Nairobi

Kennedy Lemayian Leneuyia was brought up in the Maa culture surrounded by wildlife living off the land. He studied a BSc in Environment and Natural Resource Management and works on community outreach and education in areas of human elephant conflict. He brings a unique depth of understanding of culture, environmental issues and bringing the value of indigenous knowledge and science together.

Peter Higgins, University of Edinburgh

Professor Peter Higgins. Chair in Outdoor Environmental & Sustainability Education, Director of the United Nations University Regional Centre for Education for Sustainable Development (Scotland), Director of the Global Environment & Society Academy.

Joshua Lowerikoi

Acknowledgement to Joshua Loitemwa Lowerikoi who was Georgina Hoare's research assistant for this project. He has a diploma in wildlife management. He was crucial for data collection, and being the first port of call and contact with community members making them feel at ease with a fellow Maa tribesman. He assisted with language translations and cultural understanding.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2411-5959
print ISSN: 0256-7504