Date of Award
Master of Science
Large felid populations are in decline globally and wildlife managers have increasingly used reintroductions as a conservation tool, yet few studies have assessed public attitudes towards potential large felid reintroduction candidates prior to release. The clouded leopard was recently declared extinct in Taiwan; however, a reintroduction effort is ecologically feasible and success largely depends on resident attitudes towards clouded leopards and support for its reintroduction. In 2017, 263 semi-structured interviews with indigenous locals were conducted in southern Taiwan and an internet questionnaire was distributed to 500 urban residents for comparison. Rural and urban attitudes were 67% and 76% positive toward clouded leopards, respectively. Males, younger respondents, and residents with more clouded leopard knowledge exhibited more positive attitudes among rural respondents. In addition to these predictors, urbanites with more household children were more positive. Rural support for reintroduction to the Tawushan Nature Reserve was 48% positive, 31% neutral, and 21% opposed, while urban support was 71% positive, 22% neutral, and 7% opposed. Environmental group membership, increases in attitudinal positivity, and lower levels of risk perception and knowledge influenced support for reintroduction in both samples. Although support is substantial among urbanites, a knowledge-based education campaign that targets women and older residents living adjacent to the reintroduction site would benefit reintroduction efforts.
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