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Title: Snow leopards and sustainability : livelihoods, governance and coexistence in the Nepal Himalayas
Author: Hanson, Jonathan H.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7228 1382
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis seeks to understand the coexistence that occurs between people and snow leopards on the roof of the world. Within a political ecology framework, it aims to show how various social and economic factors can influence this coexistence and promote the conservation of Himalayan species and ecosystems. In particular, the thesis addresses the twin assumptions that access to assets, via more diverse livelihoods, and access to influence, via decentralised conservation governance, will improve coexistence. The study opens with an assessment of household livelihoods and then compares them between two iconic but contrasting Protected Areas. The thesis then assesses: (i) knowledge of and attitudes to snow leopards; (ii) attitudes to their conservation; (iii) household livestock losses to snow leopards; and (iv) conflicts between people and snow leopard conservation. Additionally, perceptions of several proposed mitigation methods are also examined. The political ecology framework employs access theory, the Sustainable Livelihoods model and a mixed-methods approach. Using systematic sampling, a quantitative questionnaire was administered to 705 households at two sites in the Nepal Himalayas: Sagarmatha National Park, with a centralised governance model, and Annapurna Conservation Area, with a decentralised one. Seventy qualitative interviews were also collected for cross-methods triangulation. Multiple and logistic regression models were the main form of statistical analyses. Access to tourism income, and larger household size, best explained livelihoods scores. Attitudes to snow leopards were best explained by attitudes to their conservation and numbers of livestock owned per household. Attitudes to snow leopard conservation depended on perceptions of snow leopards and household livelihoods. Perceptions of conflict with snow leopards and their conservation was related to the number of livestock lost by any source of mortality. A number of variables explained attitudes to the proposed mitigation measures, including gender, livelihood strategies, livestock numbers and support for snow leopard conservation. In conclusion, access to assets and access to influence do shape human coexistence with snow leopards and their conservation, albeit in more nuanced ways than anticipated.
Supervisor: Leader-Williams, Nigel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Snow leopards ; Nepal ; Himalayas ; Conservation