|Categories||Communities, Conflict, Mammals, People|
|Date||2 Sep 2013|
India is a unique country with respect to its tolerance towards wild animals including large dangerous carnivores which also reside in human habitations. However the tolerance is fragile and increasing conflict can change people’s perception of dangerous wild carnivores. Media reporting on conflict directly affects how people perceive the carnivores. Our preliminary analysis of media reporting on human leopard interactions across India finds that largely attacks by leopards on people and people killing leopards are reported whereas these instances are rare compared to other human-leopard interactions. Decreased tolerance leads to increased leopard trappings and/or their killings which can then increase conflict. If this cycle of conflict is not stopped, the conflict can have a serious toll on the lives of people and leopards. I propose to use the ecological and sociological information on the leopard - human interaction from the state of Maharashtra to highlight the complexity of the issue to different stake holders, focusing on the media, local NGOs and the Forest Departments in four states that are seriously affected by human leopard conflict.
This work will use information obtained from recent scientific studies, our research experience in Maharashtra, assistance of colleagues in the media, local NGO’s dealing with conservation issues, animal welfare issues along with the local forest department to address the larger issues that affect the presence of large cats outside protected areas and the effect that sensational reporting could have to decrease tolerance of the people. Within each of the four selected states, we aim to carry this out in two/three regions which face serious conflict. The aim of the work is to increase the understanding of the complex issue of wildlife when they share spaces with people and sensitise the various stake holders of the importance of maintaining the cultural tolerance that we still see today so that conflict is reduced in the long term.
Read about Vidya's previous work http://www.rufford.org/rsg/projects/vidya_athreya or for more information contact: