leopard attacks on humans

Florida leopard attack put humans--and big cats--in a terrible situation IN LATE AUGUST, Dwight Turner paid $150 to get inside a cage with a black leopard at a house in Florida. S1 Dataset. Forty-two percent of the people interviewed in Pauri stated that the role of leopard was to predate and reduce wild and domestic prey followed by 40% who stated that had no role in the wild. Rapid deforestation and human-impacts on their habitats force these large carnivores to venture into unlikely landscapes outside protected areas for prey and cover, … Human killing is the decisive and most critical expression of human-leopard conflict and needs to be addressed sensitively to maintain local support for leopard conservation in India. The two study sites are spread across the western and eastern IHR Figs 1 & 2. A similar study [53] in the western Himalayan state of Himachal Pradesh documented majority of the leopard attacks on unsupervised children after dusk. The rare events regression procedure estimates the model as standard logistic regression with the output estimates corrected for the bias that occurs when the sample is small or the observed events rare. 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In the western part of this region, Uttarakhand state (Pauri Garhwal) has been historically recognised for the magnitude of human-leopard conflict, when hundreds of people were killed by leopard even in the 20th century and a dozen leopards killed as man-eaters [27]. Gazetteers and hunting records maintained by the British officers in colonial times confirm visitation by leopard frequently near human settlements to predate on livestock and domestic animals in spite of vast wilderness areas with abundant wild prey. Leopard attacks on humans in Nepal are attributed to be a combination of decline in wild prey, scarcity of water and lack of supervised livestock herding and guarding practices in villages [54]. html, accessed on June 2018). The forest areas were cleared to make way for human settlements and thus today the landscape is a matrix of tea gardens, villages, urban settlements interspersed with small PAs [29]. Knowledge gained through such studies in human-dominated landscapes help solve complex conservation problems such as human-wildlife conflicts [6–12], where apart from the dynamics of such events, a thorough understanding of the social aspects of conflicts are essential for implementing further mitigation measures [13–19]. The tourist was inside her tent when the attack occurred. Just last month, Doc Antle, Kody’s father and the owner of the family’s Myrtle Beach Safari roadside zoo, was charged with wildlife trafficking and animal cruelty. Beta coefficient values of predictor variables of best model, North Bengal. Department of Endangered Species Management, Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India, Affiliation: Understanding how to avoid and fight back against cheetah attacks will give you a better chance of survival if one of these big cats comes for you. These seems to be the primary social drivers of conflicts as has been documented with large felids worldwide [70,71]. Studies conducted in Maharashtra [61] highlight dogs as an essential component of leopard diet in human-dominated landscapes, whereas [62] reported them to be preying on species within a range of 10–40 kg with even rodents as part of their diet [63–65]. On the contrary there were (i) minimal human deaths to leopard attacks and no historical human-leopard conflict incidents in North Bengal, (ii) cultural and religious attachment towards wildlife, (iii) increased awareness about leopard, its behavior and positive attitude towards the species and (iv) trust in mitigation measures adopted by local forest and wildlife officials. Characteristic of carnivore attacks are site specific with diurnal nature of tiger attacks on fishermen and honey collectors recorded in the Sundarban [55] whereas in Africa and western India lion attacks occur at night when people are busy guarding cattle [56, 57]. Poggi is set to appear in court on December 2 and faces penalties of up to a year and a half in jail, and $1,500 in fines. Relationships with humans Attacks on humans. Forty-one percent of respondents in Pauri and 75% in North Bengal were positive towards presence and conservation of leopard. Length of roads and drainage within each grid were extracted using the Roads and Drainage layers obtained from Digital Chart of the World [38]. Questions were repeated several times if the respondents had problem in comprehending and a response was noted down only when there was no ambiguity. The Big Cats! “These are animals whose brains are literally designed to be ambush predators,” says Imogene Cancellare, a National Geographic Explorer and conservation biologist studying snow leopards. The incident, which took place at the home of animal dealer Michael Poggi in Davie, Florida, occurred during what was supposed to be a “full-contact experience” with the leopard, in which Turner would rub its belly and take photos with it. Leopard seals are apex predators presenting a potential risk to humans. Among the respondents interviewed in Pauri 20% were illiterate, 41% had formal education and 15% were graduates. Based on these records we visited (N = 43) sites within Pauri Garhwal and (N = 58) in North Bengal where leopard have attacked humans recently between June 2016 to October 2017. The local communities believed that leopard attacks in Pauri were predatory in nature whereas in North Bengal it was mostly accidental. Leopard killed in retaliation or shot dead by forest officials in North Bengal during this period was negligible and were thus not reported. Almost immediately, the leopard attacked, ripping his right ear in half with its teeth and tearing into his head. “At the end of the day, in my professional opinion, there is nothing you can do to make a tiger or lion or jaguar love you enough to overcome its predatory instincts that can turn on a dime.”. In late August, Dwight Turner paid $150 to get inside a cage with a black leopard at a house in Florida. Cancellare, Speiran, and Stein all say that the Big Cat Public Safety Act, a bill that aims to federally prohibit commercial breeding, public handling, and ownership of big cats as pets, could make a difference in curbing big cat ownership and backyard breeding in the U.S., protecting animals and people alike. PLoS ONE 13(10): Human footprint data was generated using the human census data 2011 (Census Data 2011.) Studies conducted in Maharashtra have cited human intervention of capture and release of leopards to far-off sites disrupting their socio-biology as principal reason of increased attacks on people. Though there was no significant difference in seasonal pattern of leopard attacks on humans in Pauri Garhwal (χ2 = 2.68, df = 3, p-value > 0.05), 30% attacks occurred between February to April and 27% between May to July. Now due to lack of adequate manpower there is considerable number of unattended cattle near villages which could potentially attract leopards near human habitations and act as a prey base in Pauri Garhwal. Leopard Seals and Humans Leopard seals are highly dangerous predators. Today—human-leopard conflicts are reported across India with major hotspots being Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra [21]. Pauri Garhwal is a district in Uttarakhand state and within close proximity to PAs such as Corbett and Rajaji Tiger Reserves. The entire district is rugged and mountainous. The two study sites were stratified into 2 km2 grids using Arc GIS 10.2. Unpacking patterns of leopard attacks on livestock and landscape features in the Indian Himalayas offers clues to potential human-leopard conflict hotspots, a study has said amid increasing encounters of wildlife with humans.. Majority of the attacks on humans in Pauri were diurnal with leopard attack victims mostly children who were going home unaccompanied either after school or returning form market alone. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. S1 Fig. e0204528. We thank the DFOs, ACF’s, and Range officers from the Uttarakhand and West Bengal Forest Departments for logistic and administrative support in carrying out the fieldwork. A total of 14 predictor variables (independent variables) were selected based on their ecological importance Table 1. Some of the site-specific characteristics are provided as Table 6. The margin of error in these interactions, says National Geographic Explorer Andrew Stein, founder of CLAWS Conservancy, a nonprofit focused on mitigating human-wildlife conflict, “is the difference between having a safe encounter and possibly dying.”. After extraction, we standardized all these data using z transformations. The dooars region underwent rapid changes since colonial times when British planters cleared large tracts of forests for commercial tea plantations and settled tribal people from Central Indian highlands to work as daily labourers in these gardens [29]. Do Cheetahs Attack Humans? In North Bengal, there was significant seasonal variation in pattern of leopard attacks (χ2 = 37.38, df = 3, p-value < 0.05) with 24% and 49% attacks recorded between November to January and February to April respectively. The number of injuries to leopard attacks were much higher in North Bengal compared to Pauri Garhwal, whereas deaths to such attacks were higher in Pauri. The other primary reason of decline in conflicts could be the large scale out-migration of people from the hills [28] abandoning agriculture lands and households. This is not the first such attack to be reported from the state, where human-leopard conflict has been increasing. Some of the other parameters recorded during the interviews are provided as pie charts (S2 Fig). A comparison of major variables between the two Himalayan sites are provided as Table 6. Kody Antle’s family runs a charity that purports to raise money for wild tiger conservation; Poggi describes his business as an animal sanctuary (legitimate sanctuaries typically do not allow public contact with wild animals, according to the Global Federation for Animal Sanctuaries). Based on the findings of this present study, we conclude that patterns of carnivore attacks on humans are site specific and there might be numerous socio-ecological drivers of such incidents. During the severe epidemic influenza in 1918, people of Garhwal mostly hindus disposed of human corpses in the forests and leopard being scavengers opportunistically fed on these dead bodies [27]. Fifty percent of the respondents in Pauri and 52% of the respondents in North Bengal stated that decline of wild prey was primary reason for leopard attack on humans followed by 24% and 27% who believed that easy availability of domestic prey i.e. The attacks demonstrate a real risk of accidents from jaguars in certain regions, such as the Pantanal and the Amazon. The attacks happened when workers were busy plucking tea leaves, spraying insecticides or watering the tea plants. If you’re headed out on safari, though, it’s best to prepare for the worst. A study conducted in 2016–2017 estimated dog density to be 0.8 per km2 (SE 0.4) in this North Bengal region [66]. Leopard seals are known to attack the black pontoons of … Comparison of predictive models showing human-leopard conflict risk probability (North Bengal). This rise in attacks on humans in Pauri Garhwal was hypothesized to be a learned behavior among the leopard population which was passed on from parents to cubs and thus man-eating persisted [23]. There are 70 tea estates in this region with the recorded forest area in recent times being 46% with an area of 1700 km2 under open forests and scrublands [19]. These two sites in the IHR differ in certain standard parameters such as (i) human population, (ii) variation in altitude, (iii) forest cover, (iv) precipitation, (v) major land use patterns, and (vi) livestock population. Hand-raised big cats are still genetically wild, and they’ve been conditioned to interact with owners only as a function of being fed by them, she says. We also inquired about the details of such incidents from family members of leopard victims, companions, local people and forest personnel who were present or had visited these sites after the attacks happened. livestock for food [49,50]. Pauri Garhwal reported an annual growth rate of -0.13 with 122 villages abandoned completely between 2001–2011 [28]. 84 of the 176 reported attacks from 1991-2013 occurred between 2002 and 2004. and visual assessment of the economic condition of the interviewee. Night light data for the two sites were derived using 1000 m spatial resolution night-time visible lights data of India [41]. Nonetheless, these tourist encounters are commonplace in other countries, especially in Southeast Asia, and are normalized by many Insta-famous big cat owners, who interact with their own animals in social media videos. Hunting of adult females have been reported to have important implications for the long term viability of leopard populations compared to adult males [46] due to a male biased dispersal [47]. MAN-EATERS! There has been an increase in severity of human-wildlife conflicts in India in the last few decades with tiger (Panthera tigris), Common leopard (Panthera pardus) and Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) being the three most problematic species reported to cause extensive damage to human lives, livestock and property. nationalgeographic.com | 27d. In Pauri Garhwal, precipitation, dense forests and altitude of 1500 m and beyond were significant ecological variables responsible for leopard attacks Table 4 whereas in North Bengal it was open forests, length of water bodies, streams and altitude < 1000 m Table 5. Average livestock possessed per household was 13 (SE 8.23) in Pauri and 3 in North Bengal (SE 0.3). Majority of the leopard attack victims in Pauri were children and young people, whereas in North Bengal it was middle aged tea estate workers. Subsequently we mapped the gps locations in Arc GIS 10.2. Map depicting location of study area (North Bengal) within West Bengal State, India. In North Bengal too, attacks happened between 0800h–1600h in the winter months within tea estates which are similar to findings of a previous study [26]. Responses from the questionnaire survey were analyzed to evaluate basic statistics regarding socio-economic well-being, primary source of livelihood and perception of people towards leopard (S1 Appendix). Though studies have been periodically conducted within PAs on certain aspects of ecology of such large mammals in India, extensive research on such aspects in regions where they share space with humans are limited [3–5]. Such historical events of game hunting in this region may have led leopards to relate people with fear of persecution. Average landholding in Pauri Garhwal was 977 (SE 706.2) m2 whereas in North Bengal it was 2127 m2 (SE 281.2). Previous studies had documented a high proportion of attacks on women during dawn and dusk primarily due to lack of toilets in the households [22] but we had very few 2% of cases, when people were outdoors for defecation purpose and were attacked by leopards. Independent variables considered for predictive risk modelling and mapping using rare events model. PLOS is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation, #C2354500, based in San Francisco, California, US. While an extensive protected area (PA) network and land allotted for agricultural production were cited as two major reasons [1], the real cause of escalation of conflicts in the recent years has been attributed to habitat loss, fragmentation, degradation due to increasing anthropogenic pressures, particularly development, reducing tolerance levels to wildlife, and local abundance of problem species [2]. Comparison of predictive models showing probability of human-leopard conflict risk, (Pauri Garhwal). Other researchers have suggested juvenile great whites may attack humans as they hone their predatory skills, in much the same way that young … This was similar to findings of previous studies by [22,23] in Pauri and [52] in Maharashtra. It has a forest cover of 64% with the area under moderate dense forest being almost 2000 km2, followed by scrublands and open forests [31]. We also noted other details such as age and occupation of victim, time and month of attack, activity during attack, vegetation type and altitude of conflict site as well as whether the attack resulted in death or injury. available at the resolution of a village. A man in Florida was recently mauled by a captive black leopard, after he paid $150 to enter its cage. This datasheet was used to record socio-economic and perception data of local communities in Pauri Garhwal and North Bengal. These hotspots should be intensively monitored by forest and wildlife officials with concentration of mitigation measures to reduce loss of human lives and retaliatory killing of predators [74, 75]. The attack data from the compiled records were analyzed to arrive at spatial-temporal pattern of such attacks. The reasons for negative perception of leopard in Pauri could be a combination of (i) conflict since historic times, (ii) emotional stigma of losing a family member/friend/neighbor, (iii) recurring financial loss due to livestock depredation, frequent crop damage done by wildlife, (iv) lack of sustainable livelihood opportunities and outmigration, and (v) limited mitigation measures to reduce such incidents. Posted on January 15, 2018 by News Desk in the News Desk post series. A predictive risk map revealed central and northern regions of Pauri Garhwal and protected areas, peripheral areas in central and south-western dooars (North Bengal) as high “human-leopard conflict risk zones”. We conducted perception based surveys of local communities to understand social drivers of conflicts within both Pauri and North Bengal. The total number of deaths and injuries to leopard attacks in Pauri district have reduced to 154 between 2004 and 2016 compared to 556 reported between 1998–2005 [23]. Though it is believed that education broadens people’s perspective [67] and poverty, low literacy, meagre income shape negative perception towards carnivores as with tiger in Sundarban [68] our results suggest otherwise. This year, the maximum of four human deaths in leopard attacks have been recorded at Narendra Nagar forest division, followed by Almora (3), Pithoragarh (3), and Nainital (3). S4 Fig. This research was undertaken to investigate the ecological aspects of human killing and injury, spatial characteristic and pattern of such sites, temporal and seasonal trends of attacks and perception of local communities towards leopard in the Indian Himalayan region (IHR). Seventy-eight percent of the victims were workers busy in spraying pesticides, plucking new flush of leaves or watering the plants in tea gardens. The human population density is low, 110 persons per km2 (Census 2011, data accessed on June 2018) with the local inhabitants of Pauri district predominantly agrarian with other major occupations being horticulture, livestock farming and cottage industries [23]. His wife had to press a dangling flap of his scalp back in place. Thus the fundamental challenge to conserve leopards in the human-dominated Himalayan region will be developing resilience and tolerance of local communities through outreach programs, trust building measures ultimately reducing the need for retaliatory predator control measures. Turner intends to file a lawsuit against Poggi, the owner of the leopard, his lawyer told Local 10 News. In North Bengal the primary reason of rise in leopard attacks could be the large scale expansion of tea estates and subsequent increase in human activities within the gardens [26]. It will be interesting to investigate population dynamics and litter size of the leopard population in Pauri Garhwal. Animal breeder Michael Poggi keeps his black leopard in this cage in the backyard of his Florida home. with majority received during monsoon. He is licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as an animal dealer, and he owns the leopard legally. Since the last decade, there has been large scale human out-migration from the mountainous region to the plains due to lack of sustained livelihood resources. We thank the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Chief Wildlife Wardens of Uttarakhand and West Bengal for granting permission for research in Pauri Garhwal and North Bengal respectively. But “animals are, in many ways, the last frontier of social justice.”. Majority of the respondents within both study sites cited decline in wild prey as the primary driver of human-leopard conflicts and we are planning to undertake assessment of prey base soon. The attack is a stark reminder that big cats are dangerous to people—a reality that’s become muddled through the lens of social media. Female leopard seals, the larger of the two sexes, can … “There is no scenario in which entering a [space] with a big cat is going to be 100 percent safe, even if it’s been hand-raised,” she says, as the majority of big cats in roadside and backyard zoos around the country have been. We selected the final model based on the lowest AIC value [43]. These posts and videos “create a mythology around animal handlers—especially men,” Speiran says. A total of 121 leopards were killed in Pauri Garhwal either in retaliation by local communities or declared as man-eaters and shot with a range of 2–16 per year between 1990–2005. It is a matter of scientific curiosity as to why conflicts suddenly reduced in Pauri Garhwal but there could be several reasons contributing to this significant decline. Our qualitative data gathered through the questionnaire surveys are indicative of these primary social drivers listed above and further research on understanding these drivers should be undertaken in the near future. In June 2004 alone, 9 people were mauled down by leopards. Average rainfall in the district is 218 cm. In Pauri Garhwal majority of the respondents were middle aged (48 years SE 1.09) whereas for North Bengal they were slightly younger (38 years SE 1.08). S2 Fig. PLOS ONE promises fair, rigorous peer review, When attacked most of the victims were solitary or in groups comprising of <3 people. Some of the most significant reasons cited for attacks on humans were diurnal nature of tiger activity and preferential use of certain habitat types in Sundarban mangroves recorded through satellite telemetry [55] and radio-collaring of leopard within both these sites should also be undertaken to understand their movement and resource utilization patterns. In the case of SGNP's leopard-human dynamics, it is important to note that in the past, leopard attacks on humans in the area have exhibited episodic peaks. Subsequently after Independence and creation of Bangladesh, Government of India settled large number of refugees within this region [33]. Since resources available to mitigate human-carnivore conflicts are limited, it is of immense importance to identify hotspots where humans are injured or killed. The study also concluded that abundance of leopard and humans were not the primary drivers of conflicts [20]. Due to logistic constraints, we collected conflict data only from central and northern eastern parts of Pauri district, and central and eastern parts of North Bengal. Almost immediately, the leopard attacked, ripping his right ear in half with its teeth and tearing into his head. The leopard, which is being traced by over a dozen teams of the forest department, along with … In the eastern Himalayan foothills (dooars region of West Bengal) there has been reports of more than 700 attacks on humans by leopard between 1990–2016 [26]. Key words: animal damage, attacks on human, large carnivores, wildlife, man-jaguar interaction Introduction Although conflicts between humans and big cats have Snow Leopards virtually never attack humans—I think they're only two confirmed instances of snow leopards attacking humans, neither of which were fatal. On the contrary, in North Bengal, 43% were illiterate followed by 33% who didn’t complete secondary education, 22% who completed secondary education and only 2% having completed graduation. Twenty-three percent of the leopard attack victims (both injury and deaths) in Pauri Garhwal were between 11–20 years in age followed by 21% between 1–10 years and 18% in the middle age group of 31–40 years. The big cat did not harm any cattle which is a very strange behaviour, ” wildlife warden for Nanded division Atindra Katti said. Pie Charts depicting site specific characteristics of leopard attacks on humans in the Indian Himalayan Region. The average annual income of agriculturalists was estimated to be INR 129,024, (= US $ 1886) whereas that of tea estate workers ranged between INR 36,000–48,000 (= US $526–700). The initial questions were related to simple demographic information to ease respondents into the interview session. The dooars (North Bengal) region is a part of Jalpaiguri District of West Bengal within close proximity of PAs such as Chapramari Wildlife Sanctuary and Gorumara and Neora Valley National Parks. Many big cat owners have shot to fame through Netflix’s hit docuseries Tiger King, and on platforms like TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram by posting videos of themselves play-wrestling and swimming with their adult tigers and lions, creating a false impression that these encounters are safe. Funding: This study was funded by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India under the National Mission on Himalayan Studies NMHS/LG-2016/009/8510-2. She is badly injured and being treated in Upington Mediclinic hospital, South Africa. North Bengal region being situated at the foothills of the bio-diversified Eastern Himalaya comprises of tall grasslands and sal dominated forest areas, thus ideally supporting more abundant and diverse wild prey compared to the rugged mountainous region of Pauri Garhwal. Based on the questionnaire surveys, average annual livestock depredation per household by leopard was estimated to be 3 in Pauri and 1 in North Bengal. Though remedial harvesting hypothesis suggests that removal of large cats at small scale from certain sites does not necessarily suppress their densities or reduce the population and other individuals occupy the vacant territories left by the residents [45] but in Pauri female leopards being removed in majority [23], the annual growth rate of the population might have been affected. S. Sathyakumar, On July 12, 1940, in Maloalmaatinsk gorge near Almaty, a rabid snow leopard attacked two men during the day and inflicted serious injuries on both. Based on our field surveys, 37% and 39% of leopard attacks were documented between 0900h to 1200h and 1200h to 1500h respectively (χ2 = 151.29, df = 7, p-value < 0.05). The big challenge in Sanjay Gandhi National Park is not only leopard attacks on the odd pig or cattle calf – leopards here sometimes kill people. Fifty seven percent of the attacks on humans in Pauri Garhwal occurred within an altitudinal range of 1000–1500 m whereas in North Bengal all attacks were recorded between 100–500 m (S1 Fig). We evaluated the (1) present and past trends in intensity of conflict (2) documented spatial distribution of human-killing and injury related incidents and identified ecological variables, potential hotspots of conflict, (3) identified human activities that make people vulnerable to attack, (4) socio-economic condition of local people, and (5) perception of local people towards leopard. Though studies on brown bears and wolves in Europe have documented increased reproduction in populations with long persecution histories as compensation to loss in retaliatory killings [48] but it has not been reported in felids. Annual mean precipitation and temperature data for Pauri and North Bengal were extracted from World BIOCLIM data [40]. Fifty-eight percent of these victims were males and rest females. But the leopard clawed its way out and delivered a killer bite. Majority (76%) of the leopard attacks sites in Pauri Garhwal had medium to dense shrub cover. broad scope, and wide readership – a perfect fit for your research every time. In North Bengal, a total of 121 attacks on humans were registered between 1993–1997, 243 between 2001–2008 and 420 between 2011–2016. One of them could be the large-scale killing of leopard especially females between 1990–2005 [23] by forest officials and retaliatory killing by local communities. All rights reserved. S3 Fig. Another Tiger King character, Jeff Lowe, lost his license to exhibit animals after authorities documented numerous cases of animal suffering. where , and are the estimated regression coefficients. The leopard is selective in attacking humans. Tea gardens provide ideal day refuge and cover for littering and raising leopard cubs and thus attacks on humans within these sites are accidental and in self-defense. Attack on humans in Pauri were recorded mostly near areas with dense scrub cover whereas in North Bengal it was reported within tea-estates. These are common marketing tactics used in the private zoo industry so customers feel like the money they’re paying to interact with wild animals is helping them. In the mid-mountainous region of Nepal majority of leopard attacks on humans were recorded outside PAs and in the vicinity of human settlements [54]. Seventy-eight percent of the victims who sustained injuries were tea estate workers by profession. 2020 National Geographic Partners, LLC. Comparison of socio-economic condition of respondents across the two study sites. In addition to speed-breeding tigers so there are always cubs for tourists to cuddle, some fail to provide adequate food, enclosures, and veterinary care. Comparison of attitude of respondents across the two study sites. Leopard attacks on … Area of major vegetation types (Dense forest, Open Forest, Moderately Dense Forest, Scrubland) were derived from the 23.5 m spatial resolution forest cover map [37]. We are grateful to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change for the funding support through the National Mission of Himalayan studies. Conflict information was collected on a presence/absence binary coding basis with a grid having a conflict incident recorded as ‘1’ and ‘0’ if absent. The social media worlds these big cat owners create, however, make it difficult for the average person to tell the difference between someone who keeps, breeds, and sells access to exotic wildlife, and a conservationist, like Goodall, who works to save them, she says. Map depicting location of study area (Pauri Garhwal) within Uttarakhand State, India. Of all the ‘big game’ species in Africa, leopards are the least likely to attack humans. A captive black leopard mauled a man who paid for the interaction in Broward County, according to a report by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Do bears attack humans? Popular exotic animal owners like Kody Antle, Kevin “The Lion Whisperer” Richardson, and Eduardo Serio of Black Jaguar White Tiger in Mexico all have acquired millions of followers by regularly posting videos of themselves wrestling with their big cats—like modern-day Mowglis. Majority of the victims were working in small scattered groups of < 2 persons when leopard attacked them in tea estates. Adding to the confusion is the fact that many roadside zoo owners and breeders bill themselves as rescuers or advertise that their businesses help fund conservation. The North Bengal landscape underwent rapid change in the 1850’s when British cleared large tracts of forests for commercial tea plantations, brought tribal people from Central India and engaged them as daily labors to work in tea gardens. An equal proportion of people 41% were positive and negative towards leopard in Pauri Garhwal whereas in north Bengal a majority 75% of the respondents were positive towards leopard (S3 Fig). Recent studies on leopard attacks on humans and livestock have been conducted [22–24] in Uttarakhand and [25,26] in North Bengal but none have compared spatio-temporal patterns and major drivers of such incidents across these sites. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0204528, Editor: Bi-Song Yue, Sichuan University, CHINA, Received: July 9, 2018; Accepted: September 10, 2018; Published: October 5, 2018. Florida leopard attack put humans—and big cats—in a terrible situation. Dwight Turner, who had pre-arranged the leopard contact experience with Poggi, was attacked by the cat almost immediately after he entered the cage. Fifty-two percent of these victims were males and rest females. Dipanjan Naha, Cheetahs rarely attack humans. There’s “this Jungle Book-esque romanticism in communing with animals,” says Siobhan Speiran, a Ph.D. candidate in environmental studies at Queen’s University in Ontario, who has spent the last three years researching social media’s influence on people’s perceptions of wild animals. The average number of injuries and deaths to leopard attacks in Pauri was estimated to be 11 (SE 1.13) and 3 (SE 0.6) per year between 2006–2016 whereas in North Bengal it was estimated to be 70 (SE 9.2) and 1.6 (SE 0.3) respectively between 2004–2016. Out of the 14 predictor variables, precipitation, temperature and altitude were ecologically significant variables in Pauri Garhwal whereas in North Bengal open forests, scrublands significantly affected leopard attacks on humans. A new study has found that leopard attacks on humans were not common and livestock losses were much less than one would expect, especially considering the complete dependency of leopards … Since the “dawn of man”, even before you could call our ancestors “man”… the felines have hunted us, prowling our world. In North Bengal due to accidental nature of attacks, early warning mechanism such as setting up of motion-enabled sensors with sirens/alarms in tea gardens can be initiated by forest department and the local administration. It has been observed that households in Pauri Garhwal are located far away from major roads/markets and the trails, paths are usually covered with dense scrub and weed providing ideal cover for ambush predators like leopard. Snow leopards have simply never been known to attack people. During field visits and informal interactions, family members, friends responded that the victims were either walking back from school, market, collecting firewood or working alone in agriculture lands. Most human perceptions of leopard seals are shaped by historic encounters between humans and leopard seals, that have occurred since the … Diet selection studies conducted by [23, 60] have documented leopard to be surviving majorly on livestock in Pauri and North Bengal. This district falls within Biogeographic Zone 2 (Himalaya) and Biotic Province 2B (Western Himalaya) as per the Biogeographic Classification of India [30]. Using this probability values conflict risk maps were prepared in Arc GIS 10.2. FWC charged Poggi with “allowing a member of the public full contact with an extremely dangerous full grown black leopard” and “maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition,” according to the police report. Welfare issues at roadside zoos have been well-documented. Human-leopard conflict predictive risk map, North Bengal. Over a period of time they developed a taste of human flesh and after the epidemic subsided due to lack of such corpses in the forests, leopard started killing humans frequently in the hills. Human-leopard conflict predictive risk map, Pauri Garhwal. In North Bengal, an overwhelming 90% attacks on humans occurred in tea estates. Consequently, they are cautious animals and, in any confrontational situation, are likely to back down. We are grateful to the Director, Wildlife Institute of India for facilitation of the study. To reduce livestock depredation respondents opined to use predator proof enclosures and lights around households in Pauri whereas in North Bengal people vouched for relocating problem animals, introducing native wild prey in forests and installing predator proof enclosures. Poggi did not respond to a National Geographic request for comment by time of publication. But people buy into it, wanting to be close to these animal whisperers “like I want to be close to Jane Goodall,” Speiran says, noting that admiration for people who seem to share bonds with animals is probably a universal feeling for any animal lover. For the first time ever, a troop of wild chimpanzees were caught warding off a leopard and eating its freshly killed prey, lending more insight into how humans … The average livestock density of Pauri is 58 per km2 [22] which is much lower than the 340 per km2 reported for North Bengal region [60]. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- Chaos erupted in west-central India when a leopard entered a Palher Nagar compound and attacked some residents. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. A leopard was caught on camera attacking a forest guard in a village in Siliguri in West Bengal. Human killing is the decisive and most critical expression of human-leopard conflict and needs to be addressed sensitively to maintain local support for leopard conservation in India. Almost immediately, the leopard attacked, ripping his right … In India, where the interface between forests and rural inhabitations is a continuum, the leopard has adapted to live in the fringes of human habitations. We thank Nitin, Chandramya, Akshata, Neha and Harin for collecting data in North Bengal and Uttarakhand. Moreover, carnivore populations subjected to lethal control could have other ramifications such as i) relatively young age structure ii) lack of hunting skills in sub-adults, cubs due to removal of adult females and thus iii) increased dependence on easy prey i.e. Non-lethal approaches such as use of wildlife deterrents and formation of Village Response Teams in conflict hotspots has to be encouraged to reduce retaliatory killings of leopard in Pauri Garhwal. Altitude of each grid centroid was generated from the 90 m spatial resolution digital elevation maps [39]. Leopard seals are top order predators presenting a potential risk to humans. The best model was selected based on the lowest AIC values Tables 2 and 3. Forty-three percent of respondents in Pauri stated that there was no solution to mitigate leopard attacks on humans followed by 18% who stated that increasing compensation amount would help. Majority of the victims who died due to leopard attacks were children and young people, 41% in the age class of (1–10) years, followed by 24% in the age category of 11–20 years. Outreach programs focusing on biology of leopard, patterns of leopard attacks, awareness about native fauna should be conducted regularly targeting the community heads, children and women of this region. Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India. The present study explores the nature of human-leopard conflicts and perception of local communities across the western and eastern Indian Himalayan region. A high proportion of these incidents were recorded in the vicinity of villages and crop fields. “The mystique of it all, like, ‘Wow, they have their own lion pride!’” can drive someone to want to do it too, she says, “not realizing that it’s a totally artificial creation. Attack mechanisms and lesions in victims are discussed. The logit link in a logistic regression is used to model the log-odds of an event occurring. A wild black leopard rests in a tree in Nagarhole National Park, in India. … When there are incidents of large cats such as tiger and leopard killing and injuring humans, it evokes a serious public backlash and a setback for conservation efforts. Due to the large-scale outmigration of people from the hills few men capable of livestock herding have been observed in the villages. Predictive maps showed central and northern regions of Pauri Garhwal as conflict risk hot spots (Fig 3) whereas for North Bengal it was the central and south western zones adjacent to PAs (Fig 4). Florida leopard attack put humans—and big cats—in a terrible situation Online videos from roadside zoo owners create the false impression that it’s safe to play-fight with adult big cats. Human-leopard conflict probability was inversely proportional to altitude with such incidents declining with increasing elevation in North Bengal. However, attacks on humans are rare. Data of covariates used for regression analysis with presence/absence information. The mean number of humans killed by leopard per year in Pauri Garhwal during this period was estimated to be 3.5 (SE 0.91). Due to the behavioural plasticity, wide choice of prey and adaptability to survive on a wide range of human altered habitats, the smaller, agile and adaptable leopard is most often implicated in attacks on people [20]. The average human population density is 701 persons per km2 (Census 2011, http://jalpaiguri.gov.in/html/census. Aurangabad: In yet another incident of human-wildlife conflict, a leopard attacked and killed a 10-year-old boy at a village in Beed district of Maharashtra on Friday.The body of the victim was found more than 1 km away from the spot of the attack. Citation: Naha D, Sathyakumar S, Rawat GS (2018) Understanding drivers of human-leopard conflicts in the Indian Himalayan region: Spatio-temporal patterns of conflicts and perception of local communities towards conserving large carnivores. About 97% of the leopard attacks in North Bengal and 60% of the leopard attacks in Pauri resulted in human injuries. Beta-coefficient values of predictor variables of best model, Pauri. This research was undertaken to investigate the ecological aspects of human killing and injury, spatial characteristic and pattern of such sites, temporal and seasonal trends of attacks and perception of … A total of (N = 182) respondents in Pauri and (N = 186) in North Bengal were interviewed between January 2017 and April 2018 using closed and open ended semi-structured and structured questionnaires [34,35] to assess their socio-economic condition, dependence on forest resources and attitudes towards leopard. Even when they are cornered by herders who find them in their livestock corrals snow leopards do not try to attack. The tea estate workers were mostly in scattered groups of 2–3 members during such incidents. The average number of injuries between 2011–2016 were estimated to be 70 (SE 9.4) whereas deaths were 1.6 per year (SE 0.3) between 2004–2016. Based on the forest department records, in Pauri Garhwal, a total of 159 attacks on humans were registered between 2006 and 2016. As depicted by the probability risk map, certain sites near the northeastern and central part of Pauri district and central, south western part of North Bengal region showed increased chances of leopard predation risk on humans. These frequent visitations near human settlements could also have triggered attacks on humans especially children. He’s still at risk of losing his right ear, according to a report filed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), which investigated the case. Comparison of socio-economic condition of respondents across the two study sites. G. S. Rawat, Affiliation: Federal regulations also state that barriers must exist between the public and big cats 12 weeks or older. This analytical procedure can be adopted in other sites to identify potential human-carnivore conflict risk zones. Data Availability: All relevant data are within the manuscript and its Supporting Information files. The incident took place at Kinhi village in the district’s Ashti taluka on Friday afternoon. (ii) The second part dealt with socio-economic questions pertaining to land holding, occupation and livestock owned and (iii) the final section comprised of questions regarding knowledge of leopard, human-leopard interactions, perception towards leopard conservation and suggestions for mitigating conflict. Copyright: © 2018 Naha et al. livestock attracted leopard towards human habitation (S4 Fig). The complex issue of large-scale human outmigration from the mountains has to addressed by the local administration and sustainable livelihood opportunities has to be provided to the local communities. A family was treated as the basic unit for the purpose of this study, with only one respondent from a family being interviewed. “Folks probably think if [private big cat ownership] is really that bad, it would be illegal,” Speiran says. The primary reason cited by respondents for decline in agriculture production in Pauri region was a rise in crop depredation by wild pigs and rhesus macaques (62%) whereas rest 15% felt it was shortage of irrigation water. Majority of respondents 89% felt that leopard attacks on humans in Pauri were intentional without being provoked, whereas 76% of the people in North Bengal opined that leopard attacks were accidental and in self-defense. For this reason, adult big cat encounters are rare at U.S. roadside zoos. The region receives an average annual rainfall of 3160 mm with an average altitude of 200 m. The major mammalian fauna of this region are the endangered one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis), Asian elephant, gaur (Bos gaurus), sambar (Rusa unicolor), chital (Axis axis), rhesus macaque (Macaca mullata) and a host of diverse fauna and flora with leopard being the apex predator and only large carnivore present [25]. In North Bengal, 60% of the respondents stated increasing vigilance while working and adapting early warning systems in tea estates as likely measures to reduce conflicts (S4 Fig). Examples of aggressive behaviour, stalking and attacks have been documented. For the present study, we did not investigate drivers of livestock depredation by leopard. The percentage of human deaths to leopard attacks in Pauri were higher (40%) compared to a mere (3%) in North Bengal. In order to understand the nature and extent of human-leopard conflicts we compiled Forest Department wildlife damage compensation records, published literature, newspaper reports available regarding the number of human death and injuries, leopard deaths in Pauri Garhwal and North Bengal for the past 16 years (2000–2016). We used chi-square analysis (α = 0.05) [36] to compare attack events between seasons, months of the year, time of the day and different age class and occupation of leopard attack victims. As data showed over dispersion due to excessive number of zeroes or absence locations, we fitted the rare events logistic regression using the function relogit [42] in package “zelig” in (R 3.4.0). Relationships with humans. In North Bengal, incidents of man-eating has been very rare and large scale game hunting of leopard was quite frequent till the 18th-19th century by British planters and the Cooch Behar royal family [51]. The predictive map highlights potential human-leopard conflict zones and helps formulate mitigation measures for these sites. Discover a faster, simpler path to publishing in a high-quality journal. It's common for animal rights activists, who aim to shut down zoos … They’re the Third Largest Seal in the World. We used the results to develop recommendations for management interventions in mitigating human-leopard conflict in the IHR. But Florida law prohibits letting a visitor have full contact with a big cat larger than 25 pounds. Approximately 58% percent of respondents were agriculturalists in Pauri whereas in North Bengal they were 46% tea estate workers by profession (S3 Fig). This man isn’t a lion whisperer—it’s completely unnatural.”. Based on our field surveys (N = 43), 28% and 30% of the incidents in Pauri were recorded between 0900h and 1200h and 1500h to 1800h respectively (χ2 = 76.94, df = 7, p-value < 0.05). The point of these animals’ existence isn’t to be snuggled by people; the point we should be driving home, she says, “is to leave them alone.”, Photograph by Phillip Ross, Felis Images, Nature Picture Library, Florida leopard attack put humans—and big cats—in a terrible situation, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2020/10/florida-leopard-attack-put-humans-and-big-cats-in-a-terrible-situation.html, social media’s influence on people’s perceptions of wild animals, charged with wildlife trafficking and animal cruelty, documented numerous cases of animal suffering. The structured questionnaire used was divided into three main sections viz., (i) the first section primarily dealt with the demographic details (age, gender, caste, education level, household structure etc.) In late August, Dwight Turner paid $150 to get inside a cage with a black leopard at a house in Florida. In the Terai floodplain of Nepal, most human deaths by tiger attacks occurred within a proximity of one kilometer of the forest edge because of the high intensity of human use as compared to the forest interior [58], whereas tiger attacks were mostly reported from suboptimal habitats near forest edges of Sumatra [59]. Here we used a simple logistic regression with a dichotomous confounder (Z) and a dichotomous exposure E [44]. A leopard and a python became embroiled in a brutal fight in the Maasai Mara in Kenya after the snake tried to eat the big cat. The livestock density of this region is 58 per km2 (Livestock Census, 2012). Occupation wise 65% of tea estate workers in North Bengal and 70% agriculturists in Pauri disliked leopard. For full functionality of this site, please enable JavaScript. Compared to the 1990’s when there were only 121 leopard attacks in 4 years in North Bengal it has increased substantially to 805 in the last 13 years between 2004–2016. We recommend that community-based carnivore conflict mitigation measures be implemented immediately in Pauri region in collaboration with local administration and village communities. Thus present day Pauri Garhwal, is a matrix of agriculture lands, villages/towns, scrub/secondary forests and mature forests which is best suited for leopard [23]. After the attack, first reported by Local 10 News in Florida, Turner underwent two surgeries and got 22 staples in his head. This study demonstrates that predation risk models can offer valuable insight into the drivers and spatial patterns of human-wildlife conflict across a landscape [72, 73]. We analyzed the conflict data using rare events model in a binary logistic regression framework to understand spatial patterns of such incidents for Pauri Garhwal and North Bengal. While attacks of humans are rare, cases of aggression, stalking, and fatalities have been documented. A female South African tourist was mauled by a male leopard on 4 January 2018 at the Matopi campsite in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Botswana. Comparison of parameters within the two sites Pauri Garhwal and North Bengal. Snow leopard attacks on humans are rare; only two instances are known. Apart from the deaths, an average of 11 persons were injured by leopard attacks during the same period. Eliminating cub-petting would “put a huge wrench in the demand for a constant supply of privately bred big cats and slow down interactions with adult animals as well—hopefully resulting in fewer articles being put out about maulings,” Cancellare says. Density is 701 persons per km2 ( Census 2011, http: //jalpaiguri.gov.in/html/census 1993–1997, 243 2001–2008. By a captive black leopard rests in a high-quality journal Kinhi village in vicinity! 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