Species-specific spatiotemporal patterns of leopard, lion and tiger attacks on humans

Craig Packer, Shweta Shivakumar, Vidya Athreya, Meggan E. Craft, Harshawardhan Dhanwatey, Poonam Dhanwatey, Bhim Gurung, Anup Joshi, Hadas Kushnir, John D.C. Linnell, Nicholas M. Fountain-Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

Large carnivores of the genus Panthera can pose serious threats to public safety. Although the annual number of attacks on humans is rare compared to livestock depredation, such incidents undermine popular support for wildlife conservation and require immediate responses to protect human life. We used a space–time scan method to perform a novel spatiotemporal analysis of 908 attacks on humans by lions, leopards, and tigers to estimate the risks of further attacks in the same locales. We found that a substantial proportion of attacks were clustered in time and space, but the dimension of these outbreaks varied between species. Lion outbreaks included more human fatalities, persisted for longer periods of time, and extended over larger areas than tiger or leopard outbreaks. Synthesis and applications. Our analysis reveals the typical spatiotemporal patterns of past lion, leopard, and tiger attacks on humans. In future, this technique could be used by relevant agencies to warn local people of risks from further attacks within a certain time and distance following an initial incident by each species. Furthermore, the approach can help identify areas requiring management interventions to address such threats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-593
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Ecology
Volume56
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the National Science Foundation for financial support (grants DEB-1354093 to C.P. and DEB-1413925 to N.M.F.-J. and M.E.C.). The Himachal Pradesh project was conducted in collaboration with the Wildlife Wing of the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department and Wildlife Conservation Society—India. All research was conducted with relevant permission from the wildlife authorities in India, Nepal, and Tanzania. We thank Julio Alvarez for early advice on the SatScan method. We also thank Johan du Toit, Craig Tambling and the anonymous referee for their comments.

Funding Information:
We thank the National Science Foundation for financial support (grants DEB-1354093 to C.P. and DEB-1413925 to N.M.F.-J. and M.E.C.). The Himachal Pradesh project was conducted in collaboration with the Wildlife Wing of the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department and Wildlife Conservation Society?India. All research was conducted with relevant permission from the wildlife authorities in India, Nepal, and Tanzania. We thank Julio Alvarez for early advice on the SatScan method. We also thank Johan du Toit, Craig Tambling and the anonymous referee for their comments.

Keywords

  • Panthera
  • anthropogenic landscape
  • attacks on humans
  • big cats
  • human–wildlife conflict
  • space–time scan
  • spatiotemporal clustering

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