Date of Award

May 2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Lincoln R Larson

Committee Member

Jeffery Hallo

Committee Member

David Jachowski

Abstract

Populations of predators are in decline worldwide as human growth and development destroys and alters their habitats. At the same time, large predators are a tourist attraction in many regions of the world, bringing essential income to governments and local communities. The complex interactions between predator populations and local communities often result in conflicts that can negatively impact both humans and wildlife populations. To gain a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of human-predator conflict and potential solutions, this study focuses on assessing the social suitability for predator conservation that measures the cultural context for conservation in a region. First, a comprehensive literature review highlights gaps in current research on human-Panthera conflict and interventions. Then, an approach is developed and implemented to better understand socio-cultural factors at play, such as people’s tolerance towards predators, perceived risk of predators, alternate livelihood options, community resilience, the policy environment and local residents’ reliance on the environment. We use this approach to measure social suitability in communities living in or around protected areas in Vietnam and in Kenya and identify factors that influence this cultural context for predator conservation, including the potential effects of ecotourism-based livelihood strategies in the region. Our analysis, which answers growing calls to directly integrate social and cultural metrics into conservation planning, provides critical information that should influence the protection of both human livelihoods and predator populations.

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