The Predators of Junnar: Local Peoples' Knowledge, Beliefs and Attitudes towards Leopards and Leopard Conservation
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Conflicts between humans and leopards have intensified in the Junnar Forest Division (JFD), India due to a combination of factors: loss of natural habitats, increasing rural human densities, and increasing leopard populations. These rural and agrarian communities that have large sugarcane plantations are vulnerable to these conflicts in the form of livestock depredation and attacks on humans, which decrease the tolerance of locals towards leopards and may undermine local wildlife conservation activities. This study used structured interviews to explore local resident's views, knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and behavioral intentions towards leopards and their conservation. The mean attitudes and behavioral intentions of respondents (N = 154) was found to be positive towards leopards and their conservation. To understand behaviors towards leopards and their conservation, a socio-psychological theory, Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), was used. Results indicate a stronger attitudinal influence on locals' behavioral intention towards leopards and leopard conservation. Although several socioeconomic and demographic variables were found to be statistically significant in relation to attitudes, this study revealed the existence of social, psychological, and cultural variables that shape the locals' perceptions of leopards and their conservation. The current study shows that local peoples' attitudes toward leopards are complex, with the view held by the same person often being characterized by both negative and positive aspects. This study does reveal positive dimensions to the local peoples' perceptions of leopards, which are relevant to conservation of this animal and serve as a foundation for recommendations regarding regulatory interventions and educational and management strategies for the future.
Shingote, Ramaa Jhamvar (2011). The Predators of Junnar: Local Peoples' Knowledge, Beliefs and Attitudes towards Leopards and Leopard Conservation. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from