Wild carnivores and people
Understanding human response towards snow leopards and wolves
What is it about?
Carnivores can be considered as umbrella species that indicate the health of an ecosystem. From the conservation perspective, they often act as ‘flagships’ or surrogates for the landscapes they inhabit. The predominant narrative focussing on human-carnivore relationships is one of conflict as encounters with carnivores can have serious economic and psychological repercussions. However, not all interactions with carnivores are negative. My research is an attempt to complement our understanding of conflict with an understanding of tolerance. I am especially interested in exploring how people and carnivores coexist, and the role of religious and cultural beliefs in influencing this dynamic.
Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) and wolves (Canis lupus) co-occur in the Trans-Himalayan landscape. However, research shows that people have very different relationships with the two species, the former being better accepted than the latter. The reasons for this are unclear although studies indicate that cultural stereotypes and varying economic impacts have a role to play.
In the cold arid deserts of Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) - surprisingly colourful, and elegantly stark in their beauty.
- Journal Article2016The Relationship Between Religion and Attitudes Toward Large Carnivores in Northern India?Human Dimension of Wildlife, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10871209.2016.1220034Download
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Evidence suggests that religion is an important driver of peoples’ attitudes toward nature, but the link between religion and carnivore conservation is poorly understood. We examined peoples’ attitudes in Buddhist (n = 83) and Muslim communities (n = 111) toward snow leopards (Panthera uncia) and wolves (Canis lupus) in Ladakh, India. We found that the effect of religion on attitudes was statistically nonsignificant, and was tempered by gender, education, and aware- ness of wildlife laws. Even though religion by itself was not an indication of an individual’s attitude toward large carnivores, the extent to which he/she practiced it (i.e., religiosity) had a positive correlation with pro-carnivore attitudes in the case of Buddhist but not Muslim communities. Our findings indicate that it may be useful to integrate locally relevant religious philosophies into conservation practice. However, the emphasis of conservation messaging should vary, stressing environmental stewardship in the case of Islam, and human–wildlife interdependence in the case of Buddhism.
- Journal Article2014Tilting at wildlife: reconsidering human–wildlife conflict2014 Fauna & Flora International, Oryx, 1–4, doi:10.1017/S0030605314000799Download
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Conflicts between people over wildlife are widespread and damaging to both the wildlife and people involved. Such issues are often termed human–wildlife conflicts. We argue that this term is misleading and may exacerbate the problems and hinder resolution. A review of 100 recent articles on human–wildlife conflicts reveals that 97 were between conservation and other human activities, particularly those associated with livelihoods. We suggest that we should distinguish between human–wildlife impacts and human–human conflicts and be explicit about the different interests involved in conflict. Those representing conservation interests should not only seek technical solutions to deal with the impacts but also consider their role and objectives, and focus on strategies likely to deliver long-term solutions for the benefit of biodiversity and the people involved.