I'm broadly interested in predator-prey interactions and wildlife conservation in human-dominated landscapes. My dissertation examines applications of predation risk modeling and mapping as a tool for reducing human-carnivore conflict. Specifically, I study tiger and leopard attacks on livestock in Kanha Tiger Reserve, central India. My primary goal as a scientist is to explore the roles that humans play in food webs and develop new perspectives for conserving wildlife and supporting sustainable livelihoods for the people sharing their environments.
Predation Risk Mapping as a Tool for Reducing Human-Carnivore Conflict: Landscape Drivers of Tiger and Leopard Attacks 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 a carnivore 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 main questions: 1) What landscape factors determine where tigers and leopards attack prey? and, 2) How can we minimize the risk of an attack on livestock?
I conducted fieldwork in Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, central India to investigate the environmental and anthropogenic factors where livestock are most vulnerable to an attack by tigers and leopards. I am generating predation risk models and maps and exploring their use for community education and livestock management. My goal is to develop practical tools to villagers and Forest Department staff to use at multiple scales and different levels of decision making.