Friday, 23 September 2016

Research looks at importance of women's attitudes toward tigers in Nepal

Date: September 8, 2016
Source: Boise State University

The lion may be "king of the forest," but tigers are bigger, smarter, deadlier and can be found across an impressive range that includes India, Southeast Asia and Russia. And like lions, tiger populations are dwindling.

New research by Boise State's Neil Carter published in the journal Biological Conservation titled "Gendered perceptions of tigers in Chitwan National Park, Nepal," looks at how human perceptions of tigers affect how willing human communities are to coexist with these large predators, and particularly at how women's attitudes toward tigers differ from men's.

"Recently the field of wildlife conservation has focused on human dimensions, but has been lagging other disciplines in terms of understanding gendered differences in attitudes and behaviors," he said. "We know that women and men behave differently, and behaviors have conservation relevance. We wanted to find out what is driving that difference to help us understand ways to develop better conservation interventions."

The research was motivated by three basic challenges:

1. Because they spend more time in the forest gathering resources, women are at a greater risk then men of a tiger encounter. 2. Women tend to have more fears in general and more fear of wildlife in particular. 3. Compared to men, women tend to have less information and knowledge about conservation and wildlife.

Carter and his co-author Teri Allendorf of University of Wisconsin-Madison identified a number of ways that men and women view tigers differently and how these differences might affect tiger populations in Nepal. Identifying ways to address these challenges is vital because women have so much influence inside and outside of their families.

"Women have a lot of influence on a household as well as on each other," Carter said, noting their traditional role as nurturers as well as their more social natures. "They control what information their children access and this strongly impacts human behavior."

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