Multiscale Factors Affecting Human Attitudes toward Snow Leopards and Wolves

Kulbhushansingh R. Suryawanshi*, Saloni Bhatia, Yash Veer Bhatnagar, Stephen Redpath, Charudutt Mishra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


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. Factores Multi-Escala que Afectan las Actitudes Humanas hacia Leopardos de las Nieves y Lobos

Resumen La amenaza que presentan los grandes carnivoros para el ganado y los humanos hace que la coexistencia pacifica entre ellos sea dificil. La implementacion efectiva de leyes y politicas de conservacion depende de la actitud de los residentes locales hacia la especie determinada. Hay muchas correlaciones conocidas de las actitudes humanas hacia los carnivoros, pero solo se han evaluado en una escala individual. Ya que las sociedades humanas se organizan jerarquicamente, se presume que las actitudes estan influenciadas por diferentes factores a diferentes escalas de la organizacion social, pero esta dependencia de escalas no se ha examinado. Usamos censos de entrevistas estructuradas para evaluar cuantitativamente las actitudes de una comunidad pastoral budista hacia los leopardos de las nieves (Panthera uncia) y los lobos (Canis lupus). Entrevistamos a 381 individuos de 24 aldeas dentro de 6 sitios de estudio a traves del Valle Spiti de alta elevacion en la cadena Trans-Himalaya en India. Recopilamos informacion sobre variables explicativas clave que juntas capturaron la variacion en los factores socio-economicos individuales y a nivel de aldea. Usamos modelos jerarquicos lineales para examinar como el efecto de estos factores sobre las actitudes humanas cambio con la escala de analisis de la individual a la de comunidad. Los factores significativos al nivel individual fueron el genero, la educacion y la edad del respondiente (para lobos y leopardos de las nieves), numero de fuentes de ingreso en la familia (lobos), produccion agricola y propiedades de ganado de gran tamano (leopardos). En el nivel de comunidad, los factores significativos incluyeron el numero de ganado de pequeno tamano cazado por lobos y la produccion agricola promedio (lobos) y el tamano de la aldea y las propiedades de ganado de gran tamano (leopardo). Nuestros resultados muestran que aumentar de la escala individual a niveles mas altos de la organizacion social puede resaltar factores importantes que influyen la actitud de las personas hacia la vida silvestre y en general hacia esfuerzos formales por conservarla. Dicha informacion especifica de escala puede ayudar a los administradores a aplicar medidas de conservacion a escalas apropiadas. Nuestros resultados reiteran la necesidad de que los programas de manejo de conflictos sean multiaspecto.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1657-1666
Number of pages10
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number6
Early online date15 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

Bibliographical note

Article Accepted Date: 21 FEB 2014

We thank the Forest Department of Himachal Pradesh for permissions. Whitley Fund for Nature, Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, and Conservation Leadership Program for funding; R. Tobgay and T. Cherring for help in the field; the 381 survey participants; and Royal Society of Edinburgh and Indian National Science Academy for the Royal Society of Scotland travel grant for S.R.


  • Canis lupus
  • carnivore
  • human-wildlife conflicts
  • Panthera uncia
  • wildlife acceptance
  • Aceptacion de la vida silvestre
  • carnivoro
  • conflictos humano - vida silvestre
  • human-wildlife conflict
  • large carnivores
  • livestock depredation
  • farmer attitudes
  • protected areas
  • local people
  • conservation
  • perceptions
  • predators
  • management


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