Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Spatio-temporal dimensions of human-carnivore interactions in Chitwan National Park, Nepal

This is a joint PhD of the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Leiden University and the Evolutionary Ecology Group at Antwerp University.

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Short abstract

The research aims to understand both biological and socio-economic aspects of human and large carnivore (tigers and leopard) interaction in core protected areas and multiple-use buffer zone forests. This will also help to reduce the attacks on people and livestock depredation by carnivores, creating a co-existence between wildlife and communities living next to them.

Project description

To understand the human-carnivore interactions, we divided our study into the following four subjects of investigation:

  1. What are the spatial and temporal patterns of wildlife attacks and economic loss as well as associated ecological and socio-economic factors? We have compiled the records of attacks on humans, livestock depredation, house/property destruction and crop damage caused by wildlife. We compared the loss caused by carnivores vs herbivores.
     
  2. Whether specific individuals or entire populations of carnivores are involved in conflicts? To answer this, we investigated the conflict-causing tigers of Chitwan National Park and found only small portion (<5%) of the tigers in population is involved in conflicts with humans. These tigers include tigers without territories and those with physical injuries.
     
  3. Do tigers displace leopards? How does the tiger-leopard interaction affect the human-carnivore conflict? We will use camera trap data as well as conflict records from Chitwan National Park and buffer zone to understand it.
     
  4. What are the mitigation measures used in Buffer Zone of the Chitwan National Park? How effective are such measures? What is the role of Buffer Zone Program in conflict mitigation? We will compile the records of fund utilization by Buffer Zone User Committees and Community Forest User Groups on different conflict mitigation measures over the years.  We will also interview with the local communities to document their perception.

Partners

This study is a joined cooperation between the Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Leiden University and the Evolutionary Ecology Group at Antwerp University. The field study site is in Nepal where National Trust for Nature Conservation is also a collaborator. The study integrates the components of biological and social sciences together to better understand the conflict and wildlife conservation. It also helps in adopting an integrated approach to conservation where people become part of the solution, which is the best possible alternative to manage wildlife in human-dominated landscapes.

Promotors

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