Resolving human wildlife conflicts related to large cats largely consists of reactive actions such as translocating the animals or paying livestock compensation to the people. Rarely is an attempt made to understand the under lying causes of the conflict and then use the knowledge to tackle the conflict proactively.
In this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGYSxS2OD2I&feature=youtu.be&app=desktop), the Park Management of Mumbai describes how it has successfully adopted a pro-active approach to dramatically reduce human-leopard conflict. They used scientific research, traditional knowledge, training of their staff to effectively handle leopard emergencies, holding media workshops so the media is better informed, liaising with other arms of the administration such as the municipality, the police department and using interested citizens to reach out to other residents.
Between 2004 and 2005 approximately 30 leopard attacks on people were reported annually around Sanjay Gandhi National Park, with a similar number of leopard trappings. Although attacks decreased later, the pressure to trap was still very high. The Park Director in the past would frequently get phone calls from the public and politicians asking for traps to be set up to catch any leopard seen “outside” the park, but increasingly people are now requesting for awareness sessions that will inform them on the precautions to take so that they are safe.
Many groups; of citizens (Mumbaikars for SGNP) and other local NGO’s interact with residents before the problem blows up to one of panic; explaining to them the complexities involved and that trapping of leopards only increases the conflict. The Munbaikars team addressed their fears, their queries and provide them simple solutions to reduce negative encounters between leopards and people. They also provide simple solutions to ensure safety of the children (http://www.mumbaikarsforsgnp.com/docs/MSGNP_brochure_english.pdf).
In the last two years no leopards were trapped and no attacks reported. Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) was a partner in this project and our unpublished work also finds that media reporting also changed after the media workshops; from sensational stories to more nuanced, which was also more informative to the public.
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