A key factor driving the loss of tigers and leopards in India is so-called “retaliation killings” by livestock owners frustrated by the threats — perceived or real — that these big cats pose to their livestock. Any efforts to reduce these conflicts depend largely on whether these perceptions align with reality.
A new Yale-led study published in the journal PLOS ONE
finds that communities in central India have an uncanny understanding of the carnivores in their backyard and where they are most likely to hunt livestock — a fact that can significantly improve advanced conservation strategies.
By mapping incidences of livestock attacks by tigers and leopards, and then surveying local farmers about their perceptions of where these attacks would most likely occur, the researchers found that the owners’ perceptions and reality were closely aligned.