Sharing quarters with potentially dangerous animals can create conflict, but a new study, “Big Cats in our Backyards,” suggests that large carnivores in western India seem capable of coexisting with human neighbors.
Using camera traps, study authors discovered that leopards routinely range nearby houses during the night. Rusty spotted cats, Indian foxes, jackals, and mongooses have also been captured on film—as have people from the local community.
Remarkably, leopard attacks on humans are rare in the regions WCS photographed despite the fact that leopards have caused human deaths in adjoining areas. WCS big cat expert Ullas Karanth considers this fact significant. He says, “The results of our work push the frontiers of our understanding of the adaptability of both humans and wildlife to each other’s presence.”
The findings also suggest that conservationists must look outside of protected areas for a more holistic approach to safeguarding wildlife.