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Communities in Rajasthan have high tolerance for wildlife: Study

The study was conducted jointly by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Duke University and the Centre for Wildlife Studies in India

jaipur Updated: Jan 17, 2018 22:36 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Wildlife,Wildlife Conservation Society,Rajasthan
Wildlife art paintings at Sawai Madhopur railway station in Rajasthan.(Aditya "Dicky" Singh)

Communities living near wildlife reserves in Rajasthan show a high tolerance for wildlife, comprising larger carnivores such as leopard and wolves. This is despite experiencing loss to crops and livestock, a study said on Wednesday.

Almost 85 per cent of locals who were interviewed believe in protecting the wildlife reserves for animals despite negative interactions.

The study was conducted jointly by Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Duke University and the Centre for Wildlife Studies in India.

To provide insight on the relationship between people and wildlife in the region, 2,233 households within a 10 km radius of four non-tiger reserves -- Jaisamand Wildlife Sanctuary, Kumbhalgarh and Todgarh Raoli Wildlife Sanctuary, Phulwari ki Nal Wildlife Sanctuary and Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary -- were surveyed.

The scientists say that understanding the agricultural and livestock husbandry practices that predispose communities to crop damage and livestock predation is critical to informing mitigation efforts.

Without such understanding and lacking a state-wide compensation scheme in Rajasthan, continued economic losses could drive people to engage in retaliatory killing, as has occurred at other places.

“Losses experienced by people living around protected reserves in Rajasthan mirror those of people in south and central India. However, compensation is non-existent for crop loss and difficult to obtain for other damage.

“This lack of compensation and mitigation support may erode historical tolerance for wildlife that people have had in this wildlife-rich state,” paper’s co-author and Associate Conservation Scientist at WCS, Krithi Karanth said.

The study concludes that understanding people’s attitudes toward wildlife and wildlife reserves, and estimating losses caused by wildlife, is a first step in developing locally relevant conservation interventions that sustain human livelihoods and promote tolerance toward wildlife in shared spaces.

Erika Weinthal, another co-author and professor of environmental policy at the Nicholas School of the Environment with Duke University, said: “This study underscores the importance of understanding household attitudes toward wildlife as a necessary first step for designing appropriate policy interventions to both protect wildlife and support livelihoods.”

The paper ‘Human-wildlife interactions and attitudes toward wildlife and wildlife reserves in Rajasthan, India’ appears currently online in Oryx.

It says female respondents were more likely to view wildlife negatively.

This result, say the authors, is similar to other research studies that suggest women are more likely to bear the brunt of human-wildlife conflict as they perform a lot of the physical labour such as fetching water and wood, making them more vulnerable.

First Published: Jan 17, 2018 22:36 IST