Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: New York
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Poudel, S., Twining, J. P., Stedman, R. C., Ghimire, S. K., & Fuller, A. K. (2023). Ecological and anthropogenic drivers of leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) attack occurrence on humans in Nepal. People and Nature, 00, 1–12.


In Nepal, human-leopard conflict manifests primarily as livestock depredation and attack on humans, creating an important social, ecological, and management issue. In this study, we estimate the probability of leopard attack occurrence on humans and assess the influence of social and environmental variables on these attacks by analyzing reported cases of conflict. The data collected from online news and articles on incidents of leopard attack on humans were used in an occupancy model to evaluate the effect of the proportion of vegetation (forest, shrubs, and bushes), livestock density, and human population density on the probability of attack occurrence on humans. We searched online news reports from 2015-2019 for leopard attacks on humans in 59 districts across Nepal that generated 72 reports of leopard attacks (n = 49 human injury, 23 human death). The proportion of shrubs and bushes (other wooded lands) within a district was positively associated with the probability of leopard attack occurrence ψ (SE) = 0.58 (0.12). This could be a result of migration induced land abandonment in the hills which has led to the succession of farmlands to shrubs and bushes, which now offers habitat to wild animals. Leopards using shrub habitat potentially encounter humans collecting fodder and grazing livestock which could escalate conflict. Understanding leopard ecology and human dimension inquiry regarding conflict across different leopard habitat types will be crucial for achieving the goals of mitigating conflict and leopard conservation in Nepal.