Jennifer Miller, PhD

2012 TRI Fellow in India

Mapping the Kill: Predicting Tiger and Leopard Livestock Depredation in Central India



Livestock depredation by tigers and leopards causes substantial losses to villagers in rural India that can motivate retaliation against these rare carnivores. A more effective solution would be to prevent livestock kills in the first place by grazing livestock in areas where carnivores are less likely to attack. From December 2011-August 2012, I surveyed sites where tigers and leopards attacked domestic livestock in Kanha Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh. I interviewed livestock owners and Forest Department officers and collected historical livestock compensation records to investigate grazing routes, livestock management and depredation trends. I also measured ground-level habitat structure and broader-scale landscape variables around kill sites and randomly selected comparison plots to examine the importance of various factors in tiger and leopard hunting behavior. This data will be used to generate ‘predation risk maps’ that depict the probability of attack across space and predict future attacks. In summer 2013, I will return to Kanha Tiger Reserve to organize village gatherings and Forest Department workshops to explore how predation risk maps can be used as tools for prioritizing grazing routes, adapting livestock management and reducing human-cat conflict.