A similar study [53] in the western Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh documented majority of the leopard attacks on unsupervised children after dusk. The average human population density is 701 persons per km2 (Census 2011, http://jalpaiguri.gov.in/html/census. Based on our field surveys (N = 43), 28% and 30% of the incidents in Pauri were recorded between 0900h and 1200h and 1500h to 1800h respectively (χ2 = 76.94, df = 7, p-value < 0.05). S2 Fig. We used chi-square analysis (α = 0.05) [36] to compare attack events between seasons, months of the year, time of the day and different age class and occupation of leopard attack victims. Some of the other parameters recorded during the interviews are provided as pie charts (S2 Fig). In North Bengal, 60% of the respondents stated increasing vigilance while working and adapting early warning systems in tea estates as likely measures to reduce conflicts (S4 Fig). When attacked most of the victims were solitary or in groups comprising of <3 people. A total of (N = 182) respondents in Pauri and (N = 186) in North Bengal were interviewed between January 2017 and April 2018 using closed and open ended semi-structured and structured questionnaires [34,35] to assess their socio-economic condition, dependence on forest resources and attitudes towards leopard. They’re the Third Largest Seal in the World. As depicted by the probability risk map, certain sites near the northeastern and central part of Pauri district and central, south western part of North Bengal region showed increased chances of leopard predation risk on humans. Knowledge gained through such studies in human-dominated landscapes help solve complex conservation problems such as human-wildlife conflicts [6–12], where apart from the dynamics of such events, a thorough understanding of the social aspects of conflicts are essential for implementing further mitigation measures [13–19]. The margin of error in these interactions, says National Geographic Explorer Andrew Stein, founder of CLAWS Conservancy, a nonprofit focused on mitigating human-wildlife conflict, “is the difference between having a safe encounter and possibly dying.”. We also inquired about the details of such incidents from family members of leopard victims, companions, local people and forest personnel who were present or had visited these sites after the attacks happened. Majority of the respondents within both study sites cited decline in wild prey as the primary driver of human-leopard conflicts and we are planning to undertake assessment of prey base soon. The present study explores the nature of human-leopard conflicts and perception of local communities across the western and eastern Indian Himalayan region. “There is no scenario in which entering a [space] with a big cat is going to be 100 percent safe, even if it’s been hand-raised,” she says, as the majority of big cats in roadside and backyard zoos around the country have been. Though studies have been periodically conducted within PAs on certain aspects of ecology of such large mammals in India, extensive research on such aspects in regions where they share space with humans are limited [3–5]. … This year, the maximum of four human deaths in leopard attacks have been recorded at Narendra Nagar forest division, followed by Almora (3), Pithoragarh (3), and Nainital (3). They rely on being in good condition to survive – if they get injured and are unable to hunt, leopards will die of starvation. This datasheet was used to record socio-economic and perception data of local communities in Pauri Garhwal and North Bengal. For the present study, we did not investigate drivers of livestock depredation by leopard. Outreach programs focusing on biology of leopard, patterns of leopard attacks, awareness about native fauna should be conducted regularly targeting the community heads, children and women of this region. The attack data from the compiled records were analyzed to arrive at spatial-temporal pattern of such attacks. Seventy-eight percent of the victims were workers busy in spraying pesticides, plucking new flush of leaves or watering the plants in tea gardens. (ii) The second part dealt with socio-economic questions pertaining to land holding, occupation and livestock owned and (iii) the final section comprised of questions regarding knowledge of leopard, human-leopard interactions, perception towards leopard conservation and suggestions for mitigating conflict. After extraction, we standardized all these data using z transformations. In addition to speed-breeding tigers so there are always cubs for tourists to cuddle, some fail to provide adequate food, enclosures, and veterinary care. Attack mechanisms and lesions in victims are discussed. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- The average livestock density of Pauri is 58 per km2 [22] which is much lower than the 340 per km2 reported for North Bengal region [60]. Thus present day Pauri Garhwal, is a matrix of agriculture lands, villages/towns, scrub/secondary forests and mature forests which is best suited for leopard [23]. Studies conducted in Maharashtra [61] highlight dogs as an essential component of leopard diet in human-dominated landscapes, whereas [62] reported them to be preying on species within a range of 10–40 kg with even rodents as part of their diet [63–65]. In North Bengal too, attacks happened between 0800h–1600h in the winter months within tea estates which are similar to findings of a previous study [26]. The primary reason cited by respondents for decline in agriculture production in Pauri region was a rise in crop depredation by wild pigs and rhesus macaques (62%) whereas rest 15% felt it was shortage of irrigation water. A wild black leopard rests in a tree in Nagarhole National Park, in India. “All attacks on humans have happened in [slum] areas, except one in Powai.” In settlements that lack toilets or electricity, 80% of the leopard attacks happen when … An equal proportion of people 41% were positive and negative towards leopard in Pauri Garhwal whereas in north Bengal a majority 75% of the respondents were positive towards leopard (S3 Fig). livestock attracted leopard towards human habitation (S4 Fig). Such historical events of game hunting in this region may have led leopards to relate people with fear of persecution. livestock for food [49,50]. He’s still at risk of losing his right ear, according to a report filed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which investigated the case. Snow leopard expert Dr Tom McCarthy also says, “I can say with much certainty that humans in snow leopard habitat are in no danger from these big cats. Rapid deforestation and human-impacts on their habitats force these large carnivores to venture into unlikely landscapes outside protected areas for prey and cover, … Majority of respondents 89% felt that leopard attacks on humans in Pauri were intentional without being provoked, whereas 76% of the people in North Bengal opined that leopard attacks were accidental and in self-defense. As data showed over dispersion due to excessive number of zeroes or absence locations, we fitted the rare events logistic regression using the function relogit [42] in package “zelig” in (R 3.4.0). However, attacks on humans are rare. We surveyed two sites i) Pauri Garhwal in the western part and ii) North Bengal (Dooars) in the eastern part of IHR, compiled secondary data on human-leopard conflict records and made field visits to (N = 101) conflict sites. We evaluated the (1) present and past trends in intensity of conflict (2) documented spatial distribution of human-killing and injury related incidents and identified ecological variables, potential hotspots of conflict, (3) identified human activities that make people vulnerable to attack, (4) socio-economic condition of local people, and (5) perception of local people towards leopard. When there are incidents of large cats such as tiger and leopard killing and injuring humans, it evokes a serious public backlash and a setback for conservation efforts. On July 12, 1940, in Maloalmaatinsk gorge near Almaty, a rabid snow leopard attacked two men during the day and inflicted serious injuries on both. His wife had to press a dangling flap of his scalp back in place. Map depicting location of study area (Pauri Garhwal) within Uttarakhand State, India. The reasons for negative perception of leopard in Pauri could be a combination of (i) conflict since historic times, (ii) emotional stigma of losing a family member/friend/neighbor, (iii) recurring financial loss due to livestock depredation, frequent crop damage done by wildlife, (iv) lack of sustainable livelihood opportunities and outmigration, and (v) limited mitigation measures to reduce such incidents. One of them could be the large-scale killing of leopard especially females between 1990–2005 [23] by forest officials and retaliatory killing by local communities. Florida leopard attack put humans—and big cats—in a terrible situation Online videos from roadside zoo owners create the false impression that it’s safe to play-fight with adult big cats. A total of 121 leopards were killed in Pauri Garhwal either in retaliation by local communities or declared as man-eaters and shot with a range of 2–16 per year between 1990–2005. The region receives an average annual rainfall of 3160 mm with an average altitude of 200 m. The major mammalian fauna of this region are the endangered one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), Asian elephant, gaur (Bos gaurus), sambar (Rusa unicolor), chital (Axis axis), rhesus macaque (Macaca mullata) and a host of diverse fauna and flora with leopard being the apex predator and only large carnivore present [25]. Pie Charts depicting site specific characteristics of leopard attacks on humans in the Indian Himalayan Region. Fifty percent of the respondents in Pauri and 52% of the respondents in North Bengal stated that decline of wild prey was primary reason for leopard attack on humans followed by 24% and 27% who believed that easy availability of domestic prey i.e. The average number of injuries and deaths to leopard attacks in Pauri was estimated to be 11 (SE 1.13) and 3 (SE 0.6) per year between 2006–2016 whereas in North Bengal it was estimated to be 70 (SE 9.2) and 1.6 (SE 0.3) respectively between 2004–2016. If you’re headed out on safari, though, it’s best to prepare for the worst. Animal breeder Michael Poggi keeps his black leopard in this cage in the backyard of his Florida home. This man isn’t a lion whisperer—it’s completely unnatural.”. Average livestock possessed per household was 13 (SE 8.23) in Pauri and 3 in North Bengal (SE 0.3). We thank the DFOs, ACF’s, and Range officers from the Uttarakhand and West Bengal Forest Departments for logistic and administrative support in carrying out the fieldwork. S1 Fig. Almost immediately, the leopard attacked, ripping his right ear in half with its teeth and tearing into his head. Majority of the attacks on humans in Pauri were diurnal with leopard attack victims mostly children who were going home unaccompanied either after school or returning form market alone. Among the respondents interviewed in Pauri 20% were illiterate, 41% had formal education and 15% were graduates. The number of injuries to leopard attacks were much higher in North Bengal compared to Pauri Garhwal, whereas deaths to such attacks were higher in Pauri. Comparison of predictive models showing human-leopard conflict risk probability (North Bengal). The big cat did not harm any cattle which is a very strange behaviour, ” wildlife warden for Nanded division Atindra Katti said. “Folks probably think if [private big cat ownership] is really that bad, it would be illegal,” Speiran says. But “animals are, in many ways, the last frontier of social justice.”. In the eastern Himalayan foothills (dooars region of West Bengal) there has been reports of more than 700 attacks on humans by leopard between 1990–2016 [26]. Fifty-two percent of these victims were males and rest females. Leopard seals are known to attack the black pontoons of … In North Bengal due to accidental nature of attacks, early warning mechanism such as setting up of motion-enabled sensors with sirens/alarms in tea gardens can be initiated by forest department and the local administration. html, accessed on June 2018). The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. It has a forest cover of 64% with the area under moderate dense forest being almost 2000 km2, followed by scrublands and open forests [31]. A captive black leopard mauled a man who paid for the interaction in Broward County, according to a report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Average rainfall in the district is 218 cm. Copyright: © 2018 Naha et al. There’s “this Jungle Book-esque romanticism in communing with animals,” says Siobhan Speiran, a Ph.D. candidate in environmental studies at Queen’s University in Ontario, who has spent the last three years researching social media’s influence on people’s perceptions of wild animals. We thank Nitin, Chandramya, Akshata, Neha and Harin for collecting data in North Bengal and Uttarakhand. “These are animals whose brains are literally designed to be ambush predators,” says Imogene Cancellare, a National Geographic Explorer and conservation biologist studying snow leopards. This study demonstrates that predation risk models can offer valuable insight into the drivers and spatial patterns of human-wildlife conflict across a landscape [72, 73]. Due to the large-scale outmigration of people from the hills few men capable of livestock herding have been observed in the villages. Relationships with humans. Citation: Naha D, Sathyakumar S, Rawat GS (2018) Understanding drivers of human-leopard conflicts in the Indian Himalayan region: Spatio-temporal patterns of conflicts and perception of local communities towards conserving large carnivores. The dooars (North Bengal) region is a part of Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal within close proximity of PAs such as Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary and Gorumara and Neora Valley National Parks. The best model was selected based on the lowest AIC values Tables 2 and 3. Leopard seals are top order predators presenting a potential risk to humans. Eliminating cub-petting would “put a huge wrench in the demand for a constant supply of privately bred big cats and slow down interactions with adult animals as well—hopefully resulting in fewer articles being put out about maulings,” Cancellare says. For this reason, adult big cat encounters are rare at U.S. roadside zoos. The predominant forest types are Northern Tropical Semi-Evergreen and Tropical Moist Deciduous forests [32]. with majority received during monsoon. Moreover, carnivore populations subjected to lethal control could have other ramifications such as i) relatively young age structure ii) lack of hunting skills in sub-adults, cubs due to removal of adult females and thus iii) increased dependence on easy prey i.e. The attack is a stark reminder that big cats are dangerous to people—a reality that’s become muddled through the lens of social media. Hand-raised big cats are still genetically wild, and they’ve been conditioned to interact with owners only as a function of being fed by them, she says. Kody Antle’s family runs a charity that purports to raise money for wild tiger conservation; Poggi describes his business as an animal sanctuary (legitimate sanctuaries typically do not allow public contact with wild animals, according to the Global Federation for Animal Sanctuaries). Though studies on brown bears and wolves in Europe have documented increased reproduction in populations with long persecution histories as compensation to loss in retaliatory killings [48] but it has not been reported in felids. Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist. We recommend that community-based carnivore conflict mitigation measures be implemented immediately in Pauri region in collaboration with local administration and village communities. Understanding how to avoid and fight back against cheetah attacks will give you a better chance of survival if one of these big cats comes for you. In the western part of this region, Uttarakhand state (Pauri Garhwal) has been historically recognised for the magnitude of human-leopard conflict, when hundreds of people were killed by leopard even in the 20th century and a dozen leopards killed as man-eaters [27]. The tourist was inside her tent when the attack occurred. A leopard was caught on camera attacking a forest guard in a village in Siliguri in West Bengal. Relationships with humans Attacks on humans. This is largely due to the strong foundation of Joint Forest Management (JFM) activities [69] that have long been practiced in North Bengal leading to better awareness and participation of local communities in conservation and management of biodiversity. Based on our field surveys, 37% and 39% of leopard attacks were documented between 0900h to 1200h and 1200h to 1500h respectively (χ2 = 151.29, df = 7, p-value < 0.05). Diet selection studies conducted by [23, 60] have documented leopard to be surviving majorly on livestock in Pauri and North Bengal. Here we used a simple logistic regression with a dichotomous confounder (Z) and a dichotomous exposure E [44]. Poggi is set to appear in court on December 2 and faces penalties of up to a year and a half in jail, and $1,500 in fines. Chaos erupted in west-central India when a leopard entered a Palher Nagar compound and attacked some residents. “At the end of the day, in my professional opinion, there is nothing you can do to make a tiger or lion or jaguar love you enough to overcome its predatory instincts that can turn on a dime.”. Thus the fundamental challenge to conserve leopards in the human-dominated Himalayan region will be developing resilience and tolerance of local communities through outreach programs, trust building measures ultimately reducing the need for retaliatory predator control measures. However, attacks on humans are rare. Based on the findings of this present study, we conclude that patterns of carnivore attacks on humans are site specific and there might be numerous socio-ecological drivers of such incidents. Almost immediately, the leopard attacked, ripping his right … Female leopard seals, the larger of the two sexes, can … This is not the first such attack to be reported from the state, where human-leopard conflict has been increasing. The tea estate workers were mostly in scattered groups of 2–3 members during such incidents. Pauri Garhwal is a district in Uttarakhand state and within close proximity to PAs such as Corbett and Rajaji Tiger Reserves. North Bengal region being situated at the foothills of the bio-diversified Eastern Himalaya comprises of tall grasslands and sal dominated forest areas, thus ideally supporting more abundant and diverse wild prey compared to the rugged mountainous region of Pauri Garhwal. Compared to the 1990’s when there were only 121 leopard attacks in 4 years in North Bengal it has increased substantially to 805 in the last 13 years between 2004–2016. Subsequently after Independence and creation of Bangladesh, Government of India settled large number of refugees within this region [33]. On the contrary, in North Bengal, 43% were illiterate followed by 33% who didn’t complete secondary education, 22% who completed secondary education and only 2% having completed graduation. We analyzed the conflict data using rare events model in a binary logistic regression framework to understand spatial patterns of such incidents for Pauri Garhwal and North Bengal. Seventy-eight percent of the victims who sustained injuries were tea estate workers by profession. The average annual income of agriculturalists was estimated to be INR 129,024, (= US $ 1886) whereas that of tea estate workers ranged between INR 36,000–48,000 (= US $526–700). In North Bengal, there was significant seasonal variation in pattern of leopard attacks (χ2 = 37.38, df = 3, p-value < 0.05) with 24% and 49% attacks recorded between November to January and February to April respectively. Night light data for the two sites were derived using 1000 m spatial resolution night-time visible lights data of India [41]. Turner intends to file a lawsuit against Poggi, the owner of the leopard, his lawyer told Local 10 News. These seems to be the primary social drivers of conflicts as has been documented with large felids worldwide [70,71]. Aurangabad: In yet another incident of human-wildlife conflict, a leopard attacked and killed a 10-year-old boy at a village in Beed district of Maharashtra on Friday.The body of the victim was found more than 1 km away from the spot of the attack. This research was undertaken to investigate the ecological aspects of human killing and injury, spatial characteristic and pattern of such sites, temporal and seasonal trends of attacks and perception of local communities towards leopard in the Indian Himalayan region (IHR). While attacks of humans are rare, cases of aggression, stalking, and fatalities have been documented. Studies conducted in Maharashtra have cited human intervention of capture and release of leopards to far-off sites disrupting their socio-biology as principal reason of increased attacks on people. The rare events regression procedure estimates the model as standard logistic regression with the output estimates corrected for the bias that occurs when the sample is small or the observed events rare. After the attack, first reported by Local 10 News in Florida, Turner underwent two surgeries and got 22 staples in his head. 84 of the 176 reported attacks from 1991-2013 occurred between 2002 and 2004. Based on these records we visited (N = 43) sites within Pauri Garhwal and (N = 58) in North Bengal where leopard have attacked humans recently between June 2016 to October 2017. While an extensive protected area (PA) network and land allotted for agricultural production were cited as two major reasons [1], the real cause of escalation of conflicts in the recent years has been attributed to habitat loss, fragmentation, degradation due to increasing anthropogenic pressures, particularly development, reducing tolerance levels to wildlife, and local abundance of problem species [2]. Florida leopard attack put humans—and big cats—in a terrible situation. Forty-three percent of respondents in Pauri stated that there was no solution to mitigate leopard attacks on humans followed by 18% who stated that increasing compensation amount would help. The logit link in a logistic regression is used to model the log-odds of an event occurring. These are common marketing tactics used in the private zoo industry so customers feel like the money they’re paying to interact with wild animals is helping them. Discover a faster, simpler path to publishing in a high-quality journal. and visual assessment of the economic condition of the interviewee. The two study sites were stratified into 2 km2 grids using Arc GIS 10.2. A comparison of major variables between the two Himalayan sites are provided as Table 6. The incident, which took place at the home of animal dealer Michael Poggi in Davie, Florida, occurred during what was supposed to be a “full-contact experience” with the leopard, in which Turner would rub its belly and take photos with it. Some of the site-specific characteristics are provided as Table 6. Beta coefficient values of predictor variables of best model, North Bengal. Cheetahs rarely attack humans. Adding to the confusion is the fact that many roadside zoo owners and breeders bill themselves as rescuers or advertise that their businesses help fund conservation. Questions were repeated several times if the respondents had problem in comprehending and a response was noted down only when there was no ambiguity. The mean number of humans killed by leopard per year in Pauri Garhwal during this period was estimated to be 3.5 (SE 0.91). Almost immediately, the leopard attacked, ripping his right ear in half with its teeth and tearing into his head. Characteristic of carnivore attacks are site specific with diurnal nature of tiger attacks on fishermen and honey collectors recorded in the Sundarban [55] whereas in Africa and western India lion attacks occur at night when people are busy guarding cattle [56, 57]. Other researchers have suggested juvenile great whites may attack humans as they hone their predatory skills, in much the same way that young … Since resources available to mitigate human-carnivore conflicts are limited, it is of immense importance to identify hotspots where humans are injured or killed. Welfare issues at roadside zoos have been well-documented. Predictive maps showed central and northern regions of Pauri Garhwal as conflict risk hot spots (Fig 3) whereas for North Bengal it was the central and south western zones adjacent to PAs (Fig 4). Federal regulations also state that barriers must exist between the public and big cats 12 weeks or older. During the severe epidemic influenza in 1918, people of Garhwal mostly hindus disposed of human corpses in the forests and leopard being scavengers opportunistically fed on these dead bodies [27]. The other primary reason of decline in conflicts could be the large scale out-migration of people from the hills [28] abandoning agriculture lands and households. The Big Cats! Comparison of socio-economic condition of respondents across the two study sites. Majority of the victims who died due to leopard attacks were children and young people, 41% in the age class of (1–10) years, followed by 24% in the age category of 11–20 years. A leopard and a python became embroiled in a brutal fight in the Maasai Mara in Kenya after the snake tried to eat the big cat. A predictive risk map revealed central and northern regions of Pauri Garhwal and protected areas, peripheral areas in central and south-western dooars (North Bengal) as high “human-leopard conflict risk zones”. The sites around PAs in North Bengal showed higher probabilities of conflicts and could be due to the presence of secondary forests and tea estates.

leopard attacks on humans

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