WHAT IS WAGHOBA
Waghoba is a large cat deity that is worshipped by many forest tribes in Central and Western India. I have appended the name to my research project because to me this issue, one of a large wild cat living among people, is more a socio-cultural problem rather than a problem caused only by cats. The issue and its mitigation have to weave together the needs of the people along with the biology of the species so that conflict is not aggravated. It is inevitable that carnivores will share space with humans in India for no land is bereft of human presence in this country. Also we support the highest density of livestock populations making our areas “prey” rich for the diverse carnivores that have always lived on this land. Conflict is therefore inevitable but attacks on humans can be avoided and that is the main thrust of our work. We also believe that only a thorough understanding of the issue will aid us to help the people and the cats. We also believe that any mitigation has to involve all the affected groups: the scientists, managers, media and the public.
Specifically the project aims to find out the density of leopards, their prey, the losses farmers face due to leopards and their attitudes towards the species.
We work in a human dominated agricultural landscape in Western Maharashtra where human densities are close to 200 per sq. km. Various methods are being used to study their ecology (more details in a few months…) like camera trapping to estimate population, scat analysis to obtain individual ID from DNA in scats, prey from scats, interviews with locals, GPS telemetry and so on…
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