The human population in Kenya has doubled over the last 25 years and is expected to rise two fold by 2050. Thus, pressure for human space has led to encroachment into wildlife habitats, increasing human—wildlife interactions. Such interactions pose serious health risks to both humans and wildlife, yet studies to understand these risks are limited in Kenya. To understand the possible predisposing factors for zoonoses at the human—wildlife interface, a survey was carried out in Nthongoni, an area bordering Tsavo and Chyulu Hills national parks in Kenya. Questionnaires were administered to 11 key informants and 200 residents from 35 villages. Our results indicate that the majority (75%) of the respondents suffered from crop raids and livestock depredation by wildlife. On their part, residents killed wildlife for: subsistence (41%), revenge (35%), bush-meat trade (22%), and other undisclosed reasons. Nineteen per cent of the respondents were knowledgeable about disease transmission through bush-meat. Qualitative data revealed helplessness, bitterness and revenge tendencies by farmers due to wildlife losses, which contributed to their poverty. This study enhances our understanding of human—wildlife interactions and the associated socioeconomic, health and conservation implications. It demonstrates the predicaments communities living adjacent to wildlife areas face and the need to involve them in sustainable management of the areas. We recommend identification of appropriate alternative livelihoods, to mitigate illegal bush-meat and agricultural practices that attract wildlife, leading to conflicts. In addition, responsive health and conservation education, and participatory research aimed at advising policy, are necessary to cushion the communities from wildlife damages.
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