Spatial Assessment of Attitudes Toward Tigers in Nepal
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In many regions around the world, wildlife impacts on people (e.g., crop raiding, attacks on people) engender negative attitudes toward wildlife. Negative attitudes predict behaviors that undermine wildlife management and conservation efforts (e.g., by exacerbating retaliatory killing of wildlife). Our study (1) evaluated attitudes of local people toward the globally endangered tiger (Panthera tigris) in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park; and (2) modeled and mapped spatial clusters of attitudes toward tigers. Factors characterizing a person’s position in society (i.e., socioeconomic and cultural factors) influenced attitudes toward tigers more than past experiences with tigers (e.g., livestock attacks). A spatial cluster of negative attitudes toward tigers was associated with concentrations of people with less formal education, people from marginalized ethnic groups, and tiger attacks on people. Our study provides insights and descriptions of techniques to improve attitudes toward wildlife in Chitwan and many regions around the world with similar conservation challenges.
KeywordsCoexistence Conservation Coupled human and natural systems Human dimensions Human–wildlife conflict
We acknowledge our colleagues in the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at Michigan State University and the Institute for Social and Environmental Research-Nepal in Chitwan for their contributions to this article. Research was supported by a grant from the US Fish and Wildlife Service Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund, National Science Foundation (Partnerships in International Research and Education, Dynamics of Coupled Natural and Human Systems Program), and fellowships from Michigan State University and NASA’s Earth and Space Science program. We thank two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper.
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