Livestock losses and hotspots of attack from tigers and leopards in Kanha Tiger Reserve, Central India
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- Miller, J.R.B., Jhala, Y.V. & Jena, J. Reg Environ Change (2016) 16(Suppl 1): 17. doi:10.1007/s10113-015-0871-5
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Carnivore attacks on livestock are a primary driver of human–carnivore conflict and carnivore decline globally. Livestock depredation is particularly threatening to carnivore conservation in Central India, a priority landscape and stronghold for the endangered tiger. To strengthen the effectiveness of conflict mitigation strategies, we examined the spatial and temporal patterns and physical characteristics of livestock depredation in Kanha Tiger Reserve. We combined livestock compensation historical records (2001–2009) with ground surveys (2011–2012) and carnivore scat to identify when and where livestock species were most vulnerable. Between 400 and 600 livestock were reported for financial compensation each year, and most (91–95 %) were successfully reimbursed. Tigers and leopards were responsible for nearly all livestock losses and most often killed in the afternoon and early evening. Cattle and buffalo were most at risk in dense forests away from villages and roads, whereas goats were most often killed in open vegetation near villages. A spatial predation risk model for cattle revealed high-risk hotspots around the core zone boundary, confirming the significant risks to livestock grazing illegally in the core. Such ecological insights on carnivore–livestock interactions may help improve species-specific livestock husbandry for minimizing livestock losses and enabling coexistence between people and carnivores.