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Factors influencing local attitudes towards the conservation of leopard cats Prionailurus bengalensis in rural Taiwan

  • Ian Best (a1) and Kurtis Jai-Chyi Pei (a2)

Abstract

Understanding the human dimension is critical for effective conservation management of species involved in human–carnivore conflict. There is also a need to recognize who among the local human population is supportive of wildlife conservation. We investigated how local people's attitudes and knowledge of the leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis are influenced by socio-demographic variables, encounter rates and the nature of encounters with the felid in Taiwan. During June–August 2014 we interviewed 150 residents in Miaoli County in northern Taiwan, where the leopard cat is known to occur. More than half of the participants indicated they were supportive of leopard cat conservation. The majority of those who expressed positive attitudes towards protection of the leopard cat belonged to younger, more educated socio-demographic groups. Negative attitudes towards leopard cat conservation were most prevalent among farmers, who also reported the highest incidence of negative experiences, mainly involving predation of poultry. We provide recommendations to mitigate human–felid conflict, including changes to animal husbandry practices. We also describe how conservation efforts for this species and wildlife in general in Taiwan could be improved, for example through incentive and awareness-raising programmes.

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Corresponding author

(Corresponding author) E-mail ianbest03@gmail.com
(Corresponding author) E-mail kcjpei@gms.ndhu.edu.tw

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Also at: Biodiversity Program, Taiwan International Graduate Program, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan

Supplementary material for this article is available at https://doi.org/10.1017/S0030605318000984

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Factors influencing local attitudes towards the conservation of leopard cats Prionailurus bengalensis in rural Taiwan

  • Ian Best (a1) and Kurtis Jai-Chyi Pei (a2)

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