Examining patterns of livestock depredations by leopards
Increasing human populations, habitat loss and degradation, and unsustainable use of natural resources has made conservation of wildlife increasingly challenging and often results in an increase in human-wildlife interactions. Not surprisingly, large-bodied species, including carnivores, suffer the greatest adverse effects of these interactions. Conflicts with humans are a primary driver of declines in carnivore populations globally. These conflicts are often the result of greater human activities, such as livestock grazing, near protected areas that harbor larger carnivore populations than adjacent unprotected areas. Understanding the underlying patterns of human-carnivore interactions is vital for their conservation. We investigated patterns and costs of livestock depredations by leopards (Panthera pardus) in and near Pir Lasura National Park, Pakistan through standardized questionnaire. Leopard depredation was common, resulting in a substantial loss of annual income to affected livestock owners. As could be expected, most respondents perceptions toward leopards were negative and unwilling to conserve leopards. However, our study provides several insights to mitigate human leopard conflicts, including identify peak vulnerability periods. The use of humans and dogs to guard livestock during peak vulnerability could reduce depredations. Additionally, community awareness of improved corral structure can could reduce leopard access to livestock. Minimizing livestock depredations and corresponding economic losses has the potential to shift human attitudes and promote tolerance toward leopards, reducing retaliatory killing and facilitating coexistence.