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Appears in Collections:Psychology eTheses
Title: Human-otter interactions in the Peruvian Amazon: perceptions and potential for conservation
Author(s): Recharte, Maribel
Supervisor(s): Lee, Phyllis
Vick, Sarah
Keywords: Human-otter interactions
Human-otter perceptions
Peruvian Amazon
Human-wildlife coexistence
giant otter
flagship species
tourist's perceptions
Wildlife conservation
conservation management
environmental education
aquatic predators
protected areas
Issue Date: May-2018
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: Human expansion is damaging pristine habitats and causing losses to biodiversity; meanwhile some wildlife species are perceived negatively when they cause damage or loss to humans. My main objective was to obtain a better understanding of the interactions between people and giant otters, a top aquatic predator in Amazonia and an international flagship species for tourism. In Chapter 2, I explore perceptions and attitudes towards wildlife using structured interviews and focus groups to find out how the perceptions of giant otters as damagers of fishing nets compared with that caused by other aquatic species. People from three Peruvian Amazon communities, Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve (PSNR), Pucacuro National Reserve (PNR) and Maijuna-Kichwa Regional Conservation Area (MKRCA) all had different perceptions of otters; in PSNR people were more tolerant to the presence of giant otters. In PNR and MKRCA interviewees had highly negative perceptions of giant otters, even though fishing registers demonstrated that giant otters have few interactions with fishermen during fishing and rarely damage nets in comparison to other aquatic predators. Moreover, fish such as piranha, suckermouth catfish, and wolf fish, among others, broke nets at the same frequency as did aquatic predators. Short and long-term outcomes of ‘single-hit’ conservation education was evaluated for schoolchildren in two communities in Chapter 3. There was no difference between the attitudes of schoolchildren who participated in single-hit session in 2009 and those who did not, however, overall, all participants had significantly more positive attitudes to giant otters after a single hit session in 2014. In Chapter 4, I investigate the relative appeal of giant otters for tourists compared to other species, using questionnaires with tourists in the Peruvian Amazon, to determine their suitability as a flagship species for tourism - a role they are widely assumed to fulfil. While giant otters did not emerge in the top five as important flagship species during the interviews, they do fulfil all the criteria for making an excellent flagship species and remain an attractive candidate for conservation marketing. Building local awareness and a positive relationship between local people and aquatic predators is necessary to ensure their survival. Giant otters are now almost universally present in Amazonia and are potentially easy to focus tourism around – they represent the perfect flagship to promote conservation campaigns and to slow the destruction and degradation of waterways in the Amazon – currently a pressing issue in the region.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: Biological and Environmental Sciences

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