Authors: MARK CHYNOWETH, EMRAH ÇOBAN, ÇAĞATAY ALTIN, ÇAĞAN ŞEKERCİOĞLU
Abstract: Large carnivorous mammals are wide-ranging animals and thus frequently come into contact with human settlements in agrarian landscapes. This often generates human-wildlife conflict; carnivores potentially damage livestock, agricultural products, or human well-being. In Turkey, the cooccurrence of eight medium-large carnivore species combined with a burgeoning human population and unsustainable consumption of natural resources increasingly threatens carnivore populations. To better understand human-wildlife conflict in Turkey and provide potential solutions, we conducted 959 human opinion surveys in 2006, 2010, and 2014 in 58 distinct settlements surrounding the Sarıkamış-Allahuekber Mountains National Park in Kars, Ardahan, and Erzurum provinces. Results show that respondents regularly interact with large carnivores and 77.2% experience harm from wildlife, typically in the form of damage to agricultural fields and livestock. Farmers and shepherds are more likely to have a negative perspective of carnivores than students, shopkeepers, and laborers. However, human perceptions of carnivores and the desire to be involved with ecotourism are improving over time. These results suggest that human perceptions of wildlife are a barrier to conservation and management of wildlife populations. The research, education, and outreach framework outlined here can be used to address human-wildlife conflict across Turkey and guide ongoing conservation efforts of Turkey's existing, and increasingly threatened, large carnivores.
Keywords: Anatolia, Caucasian lynx, brown bear, gray wolf, human-wildlife conflict, large carnivore, mammal ecology, opinion survey, sustainability, wild boar
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