Suryawanshi, K. R., Bhatia, S., Bhatnagar, Y. V., Redpath, S., Mishra, C. (2014). Multiscale Factors Affecting Human Attitudes toward Snow Leopards and Wolves. Conservation biology, 00, 1–10.
Abstract: The threat posed by large carnivores to livestock and humans makes peaceful coexistence between
them difficult. Effective implementation of conservation laws and policies depends on the attitudes of local
residents toward the target species. There are many known correlates of human attitudes toward carnivores,
but they have only been assessed at the scale of the individual. Because human societies are organized hierarchically, attitudes are presumably influenced by different factors at different scales of social organization, but this scale dependence has not been examined.We used structured interview surveys to quantitatively assess the attitudes of a Buddhist pastoral community toward snow leopards (Panthera uncia) and wolves (Canis lupus).
We interviewed 381 individuals from 24 villages within 6 study sites across the high-elevation Spiti Valley in
the Indian Trans-Himalaya. We gathered information on key explanatory variables that together captured
variation in individual and village-level socioeconomic factors.We used hierarchical linear models to examine how the effect of these factors on human attitudes changed with the scale of analysis from the individual to the community. Factors significant at the individual level were gender, education, and age of the respondent (for wolves and snow leopards), number of income sources in the family (wolves), agricultural production, and large-bodied livestock holdings (snow leopards). At the community level, the significant factors included the number of smaller-bodied herded livestock killed by wolves and mean agricultural production (wolves) and village size and large livestock holdings (snow leopards). Our results show that scaling up from the individual to higher levels of social organization can highlight important factors that influence attitudes of people toward wildlife and toward formal conservation efforts in general. Such scale-specific information can help managers apply conservation measures at appropriate scales. Our results reiterate the need for conflict management programs to be multipronged.