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Loss of traditional knowledge aggravates wolf–human conflict in Georgia (Caucasus) in the wake of socio-economic change

Abstract

Reports of the damage from wolf attacks have increased considerably over the last decade in Georgia (in the Caucasus). We interviewed locals about this problem in two focal regions: the Lanchkhuti area (in western Georgia) and Kazbegi District (in eastern Georgia) where livestock numbers had increased by an order of magnitude owing to dramatic shifts in the local economies over the last decade. This coincided with expanding habitats for wolves (abandoned plantations, for example). We found that the perceived damage from wolves was positively correlated with a poor knowledge of wolf habits and inappropriate livestock husbandry practices. Our results suggest a loss of traditional knowledge contributes strongly to the wolf–human conflicts in Georgia. Restoring traditional, simple but good practices—such as protecting herds using shepherd dogs and introducing bulls into the herds—can help one solve this problem.

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Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful to the Georgian Rustaveli Foundation 2007 project “Human and Wolf Conflict in Georgia”; They offer their thanks to Natia Kopaliani and Zurab Gurielidze for valuable advices and participation in data collection and ecological surveys. Also, the authors thank Keti Rcheulishvili for her effective help in conducting interviews. We express special thanks to Jason Badridze, the pioneer of studies on wolf behaviour in Georgia; without his contribution and commitment to the wolves, our involvement would be impossible.

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Correspondence to Zaal Kikvidze.

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Kikvidze, Z., Tevzadze, G. Loss of traditional knowledge aggravates wolf–human conflict in Georgia (Caucasus) in the wake of socio-economic change. Ambio 44, 452–457 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-014-0580-1

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Keywords

  • Carnivore–human conflicts
  • Wolves
  • Livestock husbandry
  • Socio-ecological studies
  • Traditional knowledge
  • Georgia