My dissertation research investigates predator-prey interactions in human-dominated landscapes. I focus my work in central India on relationships between tigers and leopards and domestic livestock prey. I am primarily interested in exploring the roles that humans play in food webs to develop new perspectives for conserving wildlife and supporting sustainable livelihoods for the people sharing their environments.
Predation Risk Mapping of Tiger and Leopard Depredation on Livestock in Kanha Tiger Reserve
Carnivore attacks on livestock cause substantial losses to villager livelihoods and can stimulate retaliation against predators that threatens these rare predators. Livestock compensation programs minimize losses but fail to solve the source of the conflict. A more cost-effective and efficient solution would be to avoid attacks on livestock in the first place by grazing domestic animals where tigers and leopards are less likely to attack. The risk of an attack varies geographically and depends on a variety of factors, including habitat, topography, wild prey availability and distribution of villages and livestock. It is currently unclear which features conflate the risk of attack, creating challenges for landscape-scale conservation planning that reconciles human land use and felid conservation.
My dissertation research addresses two questions: 1) What determines where tigers and leopards attack prey? and 2) How can people minimize the risk of an attack on their livestock? I am currently conducting fieldwork in Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, India to investigate the environmental factors where livestock are most vulnerable to an attack by tigers and leopards.