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Department 1

Environmental Studies


Human–wildlife conflict (HWC) is a growing problem for communities located at the borders of protected areas. Such conflicts commonly take place as crop-raiding events and as attack by wild animals, among other forms. This paper uses a feminist political ecology approach to examine these two problems in an agricultural village located at the border of Rajaji National Park in Uttarakhand (formerly Uttaranchal), India. Specifically, it investigates the following three questions: What are the “visible” and “hidden” costs of such conflict with wildlife? To what extent are these costs differentially borne by men and women? How do villagers perceive any such differences? Survey and interview data were collected from over 100 individuals in the study site over a period of 9 months in 2003–2004. It was found that for participants in this study, costs of HWC included decreased food security, changes to workload, decreased physical and psychological wellbeing, economic hardship, and at times an increase in illegal or dangerous activities. The research also showed that although women in the study area bore a disproportionate burden of these effects, roughly half of survey respondents perceived that men and women were equally affected. A possible explanation for this gap considers the relationships between gendered uses of space, work, status, and identity. The findings illustrate the importance of addressing both visible and hidden costs of HWC for members of park communities and support a call for increased gender-sensitivity in HWC research.

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