Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Environmental Program

First Advisor

Professor Brendan Fisher

Second Advisor

Professor Joe Roman

Keywords

big cats, perceptions, conservation, systematic literature review, meta analysis

Abstract

Because of human population growth and activity such as habitat removal, poaching, and anthropogenic climate change, all big cat species populations are on the decline. Conservation of big cats, a group we define as including tigers, lions, mountain lions, jaguars, leopards, snow leopards and cheetahs, is crucial to the health of ecosystems worldwide as these apex predators have an effect on many other species their environment. As human settlements and big cat habitats often overlap, instances of conflict are on the rise, sometimes at the coast of people living near big cats. As such, local acceptance of big cats on the landscape is fundamental to the success of in-situ conservation. Here, we explore this issue by conducting a systematic literature review of local perceptions of big cat species. We searched for articles that quantitatively measured local perceptions of big cats. Our criteria took us from an original database of 1,328 articles, but dwindled to only 45 articles (asking 14,253 locals) that fit our rigorous criteria. We normalized the data in each article to derive overall perceptions of big cats. Generally, we found that locals hold neutral or slightly positive perceptions of big cats. Livestock owners have more negative perceptions of big cats compared to non-livestock owners. Geographically, there are large portions of big cat ranges where no research on local perceptions of big cats exist. This is the first time a systematic literature review of this kind has been done on such a charismatic set of mega-fauna.

Available for download on Saturday, May 09, 2020

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