Our ancestors have been in a constant fight with the wildlife. An Indian bison in Pune died a few weeks ago because of the shock caused by people gathering around to see it. Recently, Nature Conservation Foundation, India, has published research analysing various factors that cause human-wildlife conflict in Ladakh. The findings of this research were published in the journal Animal Conservation. These findings can help in finding ways through which conservation agencies can minimise conflict in the region.
This study showed the main factors of the nature and frequency of the locals’ interactions with snow leopards and their perception of how much threat these wildlife animals pose to them. It was found that the villagers thought the snow leopard to be more dangerous than it actually is for many reasons. There were many local superstitions like snow leopards being addicted to the blood of sheep and goats. Snow leopards might cause livestock depredation and are thus often viewed as contributing to the negative nature of the interaction.
For wolves, two most impactful factors were ‘risk perception’ and ‘social interaction’. The wolf could be thought as dangerous because of many reasons like its greater visibility, their ability to form hunting packs and their tendency to howl. Another reasons like state-sponsored bounties to exterminate wolves in the past and minimal conservation efforts towards wolves in comparison to snow leopards might also be a cause.
This research suggests possible interventions for a peaceful human-wildlife coexistence and reduce their conflicts. The study suggests predator proofing of livestock housing and livestock insurance so that the frequency of negative interactions between humans and wildlife could be reduced. Moreover, it suggests awareness of wildlife laws and stronger conservation efforts in order to create a deeper connection between the locals and conservation agencies in the area.
The study adds that apart from reducing negative impacts, conservation practitioners should also raise awareness about the animals as well as develop programmes to foster positive connections between humans and wildlife. There is still much more which has not been discovered yet, especially about things which overlap between culture and conservation and how local culture can be incorporated into conservation efforts so that they become more relatable and impactful.