Author(s): Athreya V, Odden M, Linnell JD, Karanth KU
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Abstract We examined the efficacy of a translocation program in which large numbers of leopards (Panthera pardus fusca) were trapped in human-dominated landscapes where livestock attacks were common and human attacks rare and released into adjoining forested areas in an attempt to reduce leopard presence and mitigate conflicts at the capture site. In the year starting in February of 2001, 29 leopards were captured in the human-dominated rural landscape of the Junnar region (4275 km(2) , 185 people/km(2) ), Maharashtra, India, and released an average of 39.5 km away in adjoining forests. Eleven leopards were also relocated to the same forests from other districts. Prior to the large-scale translocation program, an average of four leopard attacks on humans occurred each year between 1993 and 2001. After the translocation program was initiated, the average increased substantially to 17 attacks. Linear and logistic models showed that attack frequency increased in Junnar following nearby releases of leopards and decreased when leopards were removed for releases far away; that attacks became more lethal when the number of leopards introduced from other districts increased; and that attacks were most likely to occur in the regions where the largest number of leopards had been introduced from other areas. These results suggest that leopards did not stay at the release sites and that translocation induced attacks on people. Potential explanations for these results include increased aggression induced by stress of the translocation process, movement through unfamiliar human-dominated landscapes following release, and loss of fear of humans due to familiarity with humans acquired during captivity. Our results show that reactive solutions to attacks on humans by leopards, such as translocation, could in fact increase human-leopard conflict. Measures to reduce human-carnivore conflicts may include more effective compensation procedures to pay livestock owners for the loss of animals to predation by carnivores, providing better methods of protection for livestock, and encouraging greater social acceptance of the presence of carnivores in human-dominated landscapes. ©2010 Society for Conservation Biology.
This article was published in Conserv Biol
and referenced in Journal of Forensic Research