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12 September 2022 Determinants of attitudes towards wildlife in rural Taiwan and its implications for leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) conservation performance payment
Wen-Li Chen, Esther van der Meer, Kurtis Jai-Chyi Pei
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Context. Conservation performance payment (CPP) is increasingly used to promote human–carnivore co-existence. The leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is a small felid, which suffers from high levels of anthropogenic mortality. In Taiwan, CPP has recently been introduced to stimulate leopard cat conservation in rural townships. A CPP scheme for leopard cats was pilot-tested in 2019, with the aim to enroll it to other rural townships in future.

Aims. We determined whether CPP has a positive impact on attitudes towards leopard cat. To assess whether attitudes are species-specific, we compare attitudes towards leopard cat to attitudes towards other small carnivores, namely gem-faced civet (Paguma larvata) and ferret badger (Melogale moschata), and to pangolin (Manis pentadactyla), a species with a similar conservation status. On the basis of our results, we discuss whether leopard cat CPP is likely to benefit biodiversity preservation as a whole.

Methods. We used a structured (pilot-tested) questionnaire to interview 164 respondents in three rural townships in which leopard cats occur in relatively high numbers compared to other townships.

Key results. People felt more positive about leopard cat and pangolin, species that were seen as appealing and rare, than about gem-faced civet and ferret badger. Whether species were perceived as causing poultry depredation or agricultural losses was a main reason behind attitudes. Attitudes varied among townships. With CPP, attitudes towards all species became more positive. However, more than a quarter of the respondents were skeptical about the effectiveness of CPP.

Conclusions and implications. On the basis of the species popularity and area requirements, leopard cats are a suitable flagship umbrella species. As such, leopard cat CPP is likely to promote biodiversity conservation in Taiwan, especially if other (unpopular) species are taken into account in the objectives of such a scheme. For CPP to be effective, it is important that such a program is participatory, has clear objectives, accurate systems to monitor program outcomes and provides sufficient long-term local benefits. With attitudes towards wildlife varying at a small geographical scale, there is a need for research prior to implementation of CPP, so it can be adapted to local requirements.

Wen-Li Chen, Esther van der Meer, and Kurtis Jai-Chyi Pei "Determinants of attitudes towards wildlife in rural Taiwan and its implications for leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) conservation performance payment," Wildlife Research 50(4), 248-259, (12 September 2022).
Received: 30 August 2021; Accepted: 9 August 2022; Published: 12 September 2022
anthropogenic mortality
conservation incentive
Ferret badger
gem-faced civet
human–wildlife conflict
leopard cat
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