Public perceptions of jaguars

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High human population density, histories of social conflict, environmental change and negative social attitudes are crucial issues for large carnivore conservation and reintroductions, which may be influenced by human age and gender, animal size and behaviour. Jaguars and pumas are extinct in El Salvador, but conservation and reintroduction schemes are debated across Central and South America. This paper examines public attitudes in El Salvador towards the extinct jaguars and pumas, and the fairly common coyote. One hundred and thirteen people were contacted and classified according to age and gender in San Salvador, La Union, Ahuachapan, Apopa, San Miguel and Santa Ana. The majority of people believed: in the toleration and removal of carnivores rather than shooting; in the introduction of jaguars and pumas into rural and special areas and zoos; that more animal protection was necessary; that the animals were good for human life, yet dangerous to children. Pumas were seen as the most dangerous, followed by jaguars and coyotes, but in most cases all three were seen as similar. Women were less tolerant of large carnivores, were more sensitive to negative impacts, and were more afraid of the animals than men. Younger people were more tolerant, and saw less danger to other animals and people, and were more supportive of animal reintroductions. Gender was irrelevant in the trapping and removal, and shooting of animals, protection levels, reintroductions and dangers to people and cattle. Age was irrelevant to animal protection levels, dangers to people and impacts on human quality of life. These findings are important for conservation policy and environmental geography.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, V2C 5N3, British Columbia, Canada. 2: InfoVisa (NGO), La Union, El Salvador

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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