International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award

5-2016

Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy (ES&P)

Department

International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Dr. Timothy J. Downs, PhD

Abstract

In recent years, many livestock herders living near Yala National Park, Sri Lanka have reported livestock losses due to predation by leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya). Despite herders’ attempts to safeguard their cattle, livestock depredation remains an issue, sometimes causing herders to kill leopards in retaliation. In an effort to mitigate the human-leopard conflict, protective cattle enclosures made from steel pipes and mesh wire were introduced to prevent leopard attacks on cattle. This study aims to assess the severity of leopard predation on livestock, understand the methods used in retaliatory killings, examine the effectiveness of existing livestock protection methods, and evaluate the success of steel protective cattle enclosures on limiting livestock predation. The results indicate high predation rates on juvenile livestock, and indicate that poison is the leading cause of leopard fatalities. Furthermore, the majority of existing livestock protection methods did not significantly decrease predation rates, but protective cattle enclosures were very effective at reducing predation rates. However, high production costs make these enclosures an unsustainable solution. Subsequently, alternative policies like a government- funded compensation scheme for herders who endure livestock losses should be considered to minimize human-leopard conflict.

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