Interactions between humans and red-billed Queleas (Quelea quelea) in Kondoa District, central Tanzania, have shaped the attitudes of the local inhabitants toward these birds. These birds are considered as serious pest because they consume small grain cereal crops. The red-billed Queleas are caught and consumed as food by local communities. Harvested birds are also sold at bus stops to passengers, as well as to local villagers, as a source of household income. This study aimed to evaluate the influence of differential costs and benefits of the red-billed Quelea, as well as the socio-economic factors (education level, gender, age and economic activity) that might shape the attitudes of the local inhabitants of Kondoa. To explore their attitudes, a questionnaire survey was randomly conducted among 360 households in six villages from June to August 2012. Most of the inhabitants who incurred costs of crop damage exhibited negative attitudes toward the red-billed Quelea, despite the benefits obtained from them. In contrast, those who benefitted from harvested Quelea birds exhibited positive attitudes towards the red-billed Quelea. The most important socio-economic factors influencing both positive and negative attitudes were education and gender. In contrast, economic activity only influenced negative attitudes. To change negative attitudes towards the birds; practical, economical and applicable solutions for the Quelea pest problem are needed while considering the future conservation of the species in the area.
Key words: Attitudes, costs, benefits, red-billed Quelea, socio-economic factors, local inhabitants, Kondoa-Tanzania.
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