Perceptions and reality in fisher coexistence with aquatic predators in the Peruvian Amazon

Recharte, M, Lee, P, Meza, D, Vick, S. J. and Bowler, Mark (2024) Perceptions and reality in fisher coexistence with aquatic predators in the Peruvian Amazon. Animal Conservation. ISSN 1367-9430

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Humans and large aquatic predators compete for fish and negative interactions are widely reported as ‘human-wildlife conflicts’. When aquatic predators are perceived to damage fisheries or fishing equipment, lethal control can occur. The perceptions and reality of damage are infrequently compared, but this relationship is key to determining how negative outcomes can be mitigated. We examine coexistence between people and six large aquatic piscivores (two caiman, two dolphins, two otters) in Amazonian Peru. We determine the extent of damage to fishing equipment caused by each species and compare this to the amount of damage perceived by fishers. Giant otter populations have recently recovered in some areas, so we expected different perceptions relating to experiences with otters. We trained fishers to complete fishing registers (n=278, 1173 hours of fishing) to record damage to nets by wildlife. We interviewed 302 people from three sites to determine perceptions of damage by predators, and attitudes towards giant otters. Rates of damage to nets reflected the presence and populations of different aquatic predators at each site, but when present, dolphins and caimans damaged nets more than otters, which rarely damaged nets. People living where giant otters had recently recovered perceived higher relative levels of damage to nets by them and had more negative attitudes about them, compared to people from areas where giant otters had been present for longer, aquatic predators were more abundant, and community resource management was longer-established. Better knowledge and more experience with a species may lead to more accurate perceptions of damage, and increased tolerance. Where humans and animals compete for natural resources, conflict mitigation rarely includes better resource management. If tolerance of predators is greater where predators are common, and resources have not been overexploited, resource management may yield greater gains for stakeholders than other commonly prescribed forms of mitigation.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: the Peruvian Amazon, aquatic predators, South America, Human-wildlife conflicts, fishing
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > QH Natural history
Q Science > QL Zoology
Divisions: Faculty of Health & Science > Department of Science & Technology
Depositing User: Mark Bowler
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2024 11:22
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2024 12:12

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