Context. Scarcity of standardised data is one of the main obstacles in understanding the responses of wildlife to anthropogenic pressures. By assessing local people’s knowledge, it is possible to generate valuable social-ecological data to fill this gap cost-effectively.
Aims. We present the Wildlife–Human Survey (WHS), a protocol for rapidly assessing information on medium and large-sized mammals, rural people, and the latter’s interactions with these species. In a pilot study, we investigate the effectiveness of our tool to generate valuable information for wildlife research and management.
Methods. The survey consists of a structured interview protocol that can be used as a tool to generate information on (i) the occurrence and assemblage composition of medium and large mammalian species, (ii) the socioeconomic profile of rural populations and farming activities in the area, and (iii) people’s perception of human–wildlife interactions (e.g. benefits, economic losses). To test the effectiveness of our tool, we conducted a total of 300 face-to-face interviews using this protocol in 30 rural landscapes (1250 ha each) in the Paraiba Valley region, São Paulo State, Brazil. We analysed the resulting data using descriptive statistics, random curves of species accumulation and maps of species distribution and richness.
Key results. We generated data on the occurrence and distribution of 32 species of medium and large mammals and on socioeconomic profile of the 300 surveyed households. We found that 95% of the species could be determined to occur in the region, with an effort ranging from 66 to 266 h; up to 611 h were necessary to find evidence of all species.
Conclusions. Our protocol can be an effective, fast and low-cost tool for appraising the occurrence of medium and large-sized mammals, the socioeconomic profile of people sharing rural landscapes with them and their interactions.
Implications. The WHS can generate information for mammal management by highlighting hotspot areas of human–wildlife interactions. This protocol can be especially useful when and where other methods are inadequate/unviable, and create the opportunity for rural people to contribute to wildlife management by allowing them to share their knowledge and concerns about their interactions with the local fauna.