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Human Dimensions Towards the Conservation of Leopard Cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) in Northern Taiwan

Best, Ian (2015) BION32 20142
Degree Projects in Biology
Popular Abstract
Conservation of the Stone Tiger in Taiwan: An Exploratory Study

Leopard cats (Prionailurus bengelensis), named for their colorations and patterns that resemble leopards, are small, wild felids that are broadly distributed throughout Asia. They are also referred to as “stone tiger” (a direct translation from Chinese) in Taiwan, which can be attributed to how they will become motionless in the presence of threats and their appearance. They are nocturnal, solitary and inhabit a wide array of environments, ranging from tropical rainforests to coniferous forests. These cats used to be found all over the island of Taiwan, but now are limited to one region. In Taiwan, leopard cat populations have been declining due to threats such as habitat... (More)
Conservation of the Stone Tiger in Taiwan: An Exploratory Study

Leopard cats (Prionailurus bengelensis), named for their colorations and patterns that resemble leopards, are small, wild felids that are broadly distributed throughout Asia. They are also referred to as “stone tiger” (a direct translation from Chinese) in Taiwan, which can be attributed to how they will become motionless in the presence of threats and their appearance. They are nocturnal, solitary and inhabit a wide array of environments, ranging from tropical rainforests to coniferous forests. These cats used to be found all over the island of Taiwan, but now are limited to one region. In Taiwan, leopard cat populations have been declining due to threats such as habitat loss and fragmentation, illegal hunting, and agricultural practices. Additionally, these felids are involved in human-carnivore conflicts, largely instigated by incidents of poultry predation, and consequently can result in retaliatory killings. Another potential source of conflict can be attributed to leopard cat conservation interfering with proposals for development projects, which overlap with leopard cat habitat. The possibility of the rejection of these development projects in response to conservation actions could intensify the conflicts with leopard cats.

The objectives of this study are to investigate the human dimensions towards the conservation of leopard cats in Miaoli County, Taiwan – the region they inhabit. The human dimensions are based on attitudinal factors, awareness and the association with socio-demographic variables, which include age, gender, education and occupation. I also examine whether experiences with leopard cats influence the attitudinal variables and level of knowledge.

In this study, the samples included local residents from Miaoli County who were interviewed through personal, face to face interviews using a structured questionnaire, as well as respondents to an online survey. The online survey was intended for the general public of Taiwan. My goal was to collect data that reflected the human dimensions towards leopard cat conservation for both local residents and the general public.

I interviewed a total of 150 participants in Miaoli County, and it was found that more than half of the participants are supportive of leopard cat conservation. Attitudes for leopard cat protection are influenced by age, education and occupation. Participants that are younger and more educated are more supportive of leopard cat conservation. Participants that are the most opposed to leopard cat conservation belong to the occupation group farmers, who also have the highest incidence of negative experiences with leopard cats – mainly due to poultry predation.
The results of the online survey indicate highly positive attitudes towards leopard cat conservation, however, most likely contain bias due to the sampling methodology. Therefore, it is probable the results from this sample are not representative of the general public, but when combined with the results from the local resident sample they provide insight into which socio-demographic groups are supportive of leopard cat conservation. Also, providing further knowledge into where to target conservation efforts.

Advisor: Ola Olsson
Master´s Degree Project 45 credits in Animal Ecology, 2015
Department of Biology, Lund University (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Best, Ian
supervisor
organization
course
BION32 20142
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
language
English
id
5041869
date added to LUP
2015-02-02 16:37:58
date last changed
2015-02-02 16:37:58
@misc{5041869,
  author       = {Best, Ian},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Human Dimensions Towards the Conservation of Leopard Cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) in Northern Taiwan},
  year         = {2015},
}