Integrating community insights into leopard and tiger conservation: Lessons from the Indian sub-Himalayan forest

By 23rd November 2023Conservation Papers


The coexistence of humans and wildlife often leads to conflicts that could create negative attitudes toward predators like tigers (Panthera tigris) and leopards (Panthera pardus), resulting in retaliatory killings or a lack of support for conservation efforts. However, human-wildlife cohabitation is critical for the long-term conservation of several endangered species. Effective conservation in this setting demands an understanding of local perspectives toward wildlife. This study surveyed forest villagers in India’s Buxa Tiger Reserve regarding their opinions on leopard and tiger conservation. Attitudes of 345 households across 10 forest villages were analyzed using a five-point Likert scale and a Generalized Ordered Logistic model, revealing predominant positive inclinations toward conservation, particularly for leopards. Positive views on leopard conservation were common among men, non-tribal communities, larger households, and Buxa East Division residents. Besides, positive attitudes toward tiger conservation were prevalent among men, villagers belonging to the Hindu religion, larger households, higher annual incomes, and the residents of Buxa East Division. The study proposes gender-specific approaches, alternative livelihoods, awareness campaigns, and spatial planning to bolster the conservation of leopards and tigers. The findings of this study hold global significance in promoting co-habitation strategies, fostering a landscape where both humans and apex predators can coexist harmoniously while enabling local residents to take an increased responsibility for biodiversity conservation.

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