Perceptions of Wildlife

Authors: Leandra Merz*, University of Florida
Topics: Africa, Natural Resources, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: Wildlife conservation, human-wildlife conflict, Mozambique, GIS, Attitudes, Perceptions
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 3:55 PM / 5:35 PM
Room: 8229, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Attitudes towards wildlife can predict negative behaviors that threaten biodiversity conservation such as habitat degradation or poaching. While attitudes can (i.e. crop destruction, livestock pred be shaped by direct costs (crop damage or loss of livestock), direct benefits (income from wildlife hunting/tourism), indirect costs, indirect benefits, and/or socio-demographics. For this study I analyzed the key factors driving attitudes toward local wildlife outside Sabie Game Park in southwestern Mozambique. I developed a logit model to predict either positive or negative perceptions of wildlife based on 15 different variables. The final model had five independent variables (gender, distance from park, agreement with park rules, restricted access to natural resources, and wildlife benefits) and correctly predicted 71.4% of the cases. Surprisingly, direct costs such as livestock loss, crop damage, and human injury were not significant predictors of attitudes. Households closer to the protected area were much more likely to have negative attitudes towards local wildlife than households farther away. Therefore, I used GIS to map households with positive/negative attitudes and determine at which distance from the park fence households became more positive. This distance can be used to develop an appropriate buffer zone to improve the relationship between humans and wildlife in this area. Knowledge of the other significant predictors of wildlife attitudes can also guide local conservation initiatives and ultimately improve biodiversity conservation within the area.

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