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Title: Improving our understanding of the socio-ecological complexity of human-carnivore interactions
Author: Dorward, Leejiah
ISNI:       0000 0004 7966 1185
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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Conflicts over the management of large carnivores, and their impacts on humans reduces well-being for human communities and threatens the persistence of large carnivore populations around the world. Improving our understanding of the complex ecological and social systems that create these conservation conflicts is vital if they are to be resolved. In this thesis we investigate ecological and social aspects of human-carnivore interactions in land bordering Ruaha National Park in Tanzania where there are conflicting views on how large carnivores should be managed. Investigating the spatio-temporal patterns of carnivore attacks on livestock we found higher risk of attacks linked to increased rainfall, wild prey and proximity to protected areas. We found re-enforced wire enclosures to be more effective at protecting livestock compared to those of traditional construction. Using local ecological knowledge to investigate carnivore landscape use in community land we found occupancy of lions, wild dog, leopard and cheetah higher in the wet season, while hyenas are present all year round. However low detection rates and respondent availability during the dry season restricted our model's ability to accurately predict carnivore land use. Studying tolerance towards lions and hyenas we found perceived benefits and positive beliefs were the most influential variables for both species, while experience of species and perceived risks only influenced tolerance towards hyenas. Engagements with conservation programs increased tolerance towards lions but had a complex relationship with risk perception for both species, highlighting how conservation interventions can interact with other socio-psychological variables with unexpected consequences. Simulating an African savannah community we found low levels of retaliatory killing of large carnivores drove them to extinction. This, however, had little impact on other simulated populations. We also found small herbivores to be responsible for the most damage to crops compared to large herbivores. This work contributes to our understanding of some of the drivers of the human-carnivore interactions that conservation conflicts are often centred on. We highlight the complexity of these systems and the broad range of tools and disciplines required to study them.
Supervisor: Coulson, Tim ; Dickman, Amy Sponsor: Natural Environmental Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Wildlife conservation ; ecology