African elephant’ interfering with pupils’ attendance at school is one of the often mentioned, but less documented form of human-elephant conflict (HEC) and can result in reduced education standards of pupils and schools, human deaths and injuries and the retaliatory killing of elephants. This, however, has not been proven, apart from the anecdotal evidence; hence no mitigation measures have been tested to ameliorate the problem. Crop raiding by elephants remains the most researched and documented form of HEC with elephant deterrents devised, promoted and tested as tools for reducing such conflict across the elephant range states. We compared performance of pupils and schools, both within and outside the elephant range in Transmara District, Kenya, adjacent to Maasai Mara National Reserve. We evaluated schools and pupils performance using National examinations means scores, standardized and set by the Kenya National Examination Council(KNEC). We compared the performance of pupils who were affected versus those not affected by variables such as days absent from school, the distance covered by pupils to school and their ethnic background, to assess the effect of other factors on performance. We found that mean pupil scores within elephant range were significantly lower than mean scores outside elephant range, but factors such as distance traveled to school and ethnic background may influence performance more strongly than HEC. We found little evidence to support the notion that elephants contribute towards the lower mean score of pupils within the elephant range. We recommend that a more detailed study be carried out that includes the proxy variables for teacher-pupil ratio; parental characteristics; as well as schools characteristics; learning and non-learning infrastructure using a product function approach to derive any mitigation strategies aimed at improving performance or the mean score within elephant range.
Key words: Human-elephant conflict, Maasai Mara National Reserve, schools performance, pupil scores.
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