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Title: Andean bears and people in Apolabamba, Bolivia : culture, conflict and conservation
Author: Paisley, Susanna L.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3464 251X
Awarding Body: University of Kent at Canterbury
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2001
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This thesis deals in qualitative and quantitative terms with the interaction between Andean bears and people in Apolobamba, Bolivia. This mountain range is an important stronghold for this species, which is little-studied and yet of considerable conservation concern. Apolobamba is also a stronghold for traditional beliefs and attitudes towards bears. In addition, this area afforded the opportunity to compare human-bear interaction between people living in and outside of a protected area. Key ecological findings include the first description of the activity patterns of the species - both bears having displayed diurnal activity with two peaks on either side of a midday trough. Movement patterns, also previously undescribed for this species, were characterised by highly overlapping moderately sized home ranges. Seasonal variation was documented in activity patterns and in habitat use according to changes in the availability of bear foods. In an omnivorous diet similar to what has been found in other studies, bromeliads were shown to be a staple food of markedly low nutritive value - highlighting the attraction of anthropogenic food sources such as maize and beef. Myths and rituals relating to bears were documented. The famous "Bear's Son" tale was far from being the only bear-related story in circulation, contrary to what had previously been supposed. Accompanying the wide range of depictions of bears in these stories, there was also documented a wide range of bear-related beliefs and attitudes. At one extreme, the beat was thought merely a pest animal, no good for anything, dangerous to people and its possible extinction considered good. At the other extreme, the bear was thought God-like, possessing seven human souls, with a high medicinal value to its body parts and its possible extinction considered tragic. Perceived depredation of crops and livestock was high, although this was not corroborated by investigations on the ground. Frustration about the restrictions of living inside the protected area focussed on the prohibition against killing problem animals. Despite the evident cultural salience of bears, most people in Apolobamba would be glad if there were no more in the future. However, tolerance was higher in certain valleys, amongst older people and those who did not keep livestock.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral