, Volume 30, Issue 6, pp 261-274
Date: 28 Oct 2009

An analysis of conservation attitudes and awareness around Kaziranga National Park, Assam, India: implications for conservation and development

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Abstract

Kaziranga National Park and World Heritage Site, Assam, India, situated in a region with a large and diverse human population, was recently expanded due to its global importance for the conservation of many endangered species. Here, we develop detailed demographic and socio-economic profiles of residents around Kaziranga to study conservation attitudes and awareness using a semi-structured survey of 590 households in 37 villages. Results show high variation in attitudes and awareness as a function of ethno-religious group, educational level, and socio-economic and immigration status, indicating more and different needs for economic interventions within some communities than others. We found a high degree of conservation awareness, but most people expressed negative conservation attitudes and almost all lost crops to wildlife. We highlight the complexity of conflict in the area and present a basis for electing a microsite planning approach for conservation and development in areas characterized by high ethnic diversity, high human population densities, and land-dependent large mammals that pose economic risks. The findings imply that highly localized development schemes and participatory approaches to resource management at the village level, coupled with greater efforts at education, are especially needed to achieve conservation and development goals in such cases.