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Does the contemplation of forest field staff about wildlife differ than a common man?

Authors:
PITHVA & DHARAIYA
Perception of forest staff about wildlife
Prithivya | August 2021 28
Does the contemplation of forest field staff about wildlife differ than a common man?
Pithva Krishna1, 2 and Dharaiya Nishith1
1 Wildlife and Conservation Biology Research Lab, Hemchandracharya North Gujarat
University, Patan (Gujarat) India
2Institute of Environment Education and Research, Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University,
Pune, India
*E-mail: krishnapithva17@gmail.com
Introduction:
A field-based training was organized by Vadodara wildlife division, Gujarat forest
department and WCB Research Lab of Hemchandracharya North Gujarat University from
September 17th to 19th, 2020 with the aim to enhance the capacity of forest field staff for
monitoring and rescue of sloth bear and associated fauna. The training was organized at
Jambughoda wildlife sanctuary, Central Gujarat. Along with the awareness about sloth bear,
a small survey was carried out to understand how the field staff envisages the wildlife that is
found in their work place. Total 18 frontline forest staff of different cadre such as beat guards
and round foresters from different forest ranges of central Gujarat has participated in this
survey.
This study provides an insight on how
forest staff’s perception differs in different
animals. As Q method provides qualitative
and quantitative data which helps
identifying people’s perception in detail. As
participants have to provide justification of
their answers, it reveals some underlying
conflicts or reasons. These justifications of
participants can help identify the gaps and
can be better used for conservation planning
as well as capacity building of forest field
staff.
Figure 1: Forest frontline staff organizing
photos on Q Board © Nishith Dharaiya
PITHVA & DHARAIYA
Perception of forest staff about wildlife
Prithivya | August 2021 29
Methodology:
We used Q methodology for this study; this method is designed and developed by William
Stephenson in 1930s (McKeown & Thomas, 1988)and allows to disclose underlying reasons.
This method is widely used in social sciences studies. In this method, photos were used
instead of statements to know respondent’s perception allowing them to justify their answer
in detail without any restriction. This method allows both qualitative and quantitative data on
perception of the person being interviewed.
We categorised the Q Method into two parts, first, organising 16 photos of locally found
animals on a Q-board (figure 1(b)) followed by explanation for each photo which are placed
on Q-board by the respondent. As shown in the figure 1(a), the participants were asked to
organise photos in Q- board as per their liking and disliking towards the animals and to
provide reasons which were recorded in mobile phone devise. A list of all the wildlife photos
used for this survey is provided in table 1.
-3
-2
-1
0
+1
+2
+3
Negative
Positive
Neutral
Figure 1(a): Representative sort of organized Q-
board by a participant
Figure 1(b): A Q-board on which the
respondents organize the photos
PITHVA & DHARAIYA
Perception of forest staff about wildlife
Prithivya | August 2021 30
Photo
ID
Common name
Scientific name
1
Wild boar
Sus scrofa
2
Hanuman langur
Semnopithecus entellus
3
Indian cobra
Najanaja
4
Indian giant flying squirrel
Petauristaphilippensis
5
Small Indian civet
Viverricula indica
6
Sloth bear
Melursus ursinus
7
Indian hare
Lepus nigricollis
8
Indian python
Python molursus
9
Barn owl
Tyto alba
10
Grey francolin
Francolinuspondicerianus
11
Red-wattled lapwing
Vanellus indicus
12
Rhesus macaque
Macaca mulatta
13
Black kite
Milvus migrans
14
Common krait
Bungarus caeruleus
15
Indian crested porcupine
Hystrix indica
16
Blue bull
Boselaphustragocamelus
Q sort analysis:
In this study, three factors were derived based on participant’sjustification which is explained
in detail in the result section. A factor in this study is a category representingthe group of
people who have similar perspective(Brown, 1980). The higher the factor loading, the more
highly that sorts are correlated with that factor (Ramlo, 2008, Ramlo & Newman, 2011).The
sorts refer to the photos assembled by participants on Q-board (figure 1(b)).In order to
analyse the data, a software, PQMethod(http://schmolck.org/qmethod/)was used which is
specially designed for Q-analysis. Q sorts are the number of participants that took part in the
survey. All the data were entered manually in this software and correlation was calculated
among each sort. The correlation matrix for the extracted factor was analysed through a
principal component factor analysis with varimax rotationfor which options are provided in
the software (figure 2).
Table 1: Photos of wildlife used for this study
PITHVA & DHARAIYA
Perception of forest staff about wildlife
Prithivya | August 2021 31
Results and Discussion:
The three factors that emerged
are shown in Table 2 with
automatic pre-flagging.
Participants having similar
perceptions are put together in
their respective factors and
marked in bold and have “X”
next to their score. Out of 18
sorts, 17 sorts were found
complete by the software and
were further analysed. Each of
three factors represents a different perspective towards the photos provided to them.
Participants were named as PART001, PART002 and so on to keep their identity unrevealed.
In table 2, there are 8 participants belonging to factor 1 with 29% of the variance explained
followed by 7 participants in factor 2 having 26% explained variance and 2 participants
belonging to factor 3 with 14% explained variance.Once factor score calculated by the
software, distinguishing tables were developed in this analysis for each factor which differ
from each other that is explained further in this section. The distinguishing tables for each
factor explains differences between factors(Brown, 1971, Ramlo & Newman, 2011, Brown,
1993).In order to determine distinguishing statements, average Z-score of respondent’s factor
score was calculated by the software.
Figure 2: Screenshot of analytical option available in PQM
method Software
PITHVA & DHARAIYA
Perception of forest staff about wildlife
Prithivya | August 2021 32
Table 2: Extracted factor score from Q-sorts
Q-Sorts
ID
Factor 1
Factor 2
Factor 3
1
PART001
0.8530X
0.1248
-0.1223
2
PART002
0.0414
0.8084X
0.1708
3
PART003
0.6945X
0.0471
0.3983
4
PART004
0.7683X
0.1839
-0.0156
5
PART005
0.5450X
0.0166
0.2332
6
PART006
0.4208
0.7241X
0.4006
7
PART007
0.1728
0.1377
0.9013X
8
PART008
0.6930X
0.5214
0.3237
9
PART009
0.6516X
0.4289
0.4265
10
PART010
0.5119
0.6142X
0.0921
11
PART011
0.8475X
-0.0072
-0.2626
12
PART012
0.3742
-0.5333
0.4456
13
PART013
0.0481
0.8292X
0.3240
14
PART014
-0.0002
0.6395X
-0.3574
15
PART015
0.6577X
0.2179
0.1940
16
PART016
-0.0614
0.1991
0.6372X
17
PART017
0.4469
0.7611X
0.1835
18
PART018
0.5679
0.7564X
0.1465
%
Explained variance
29
26
14
Note: number in bold shows respondents belong to those respective factors.
Table 3 shows different factor score for each animal photo and depending on statistical
significance the photo load to a specific factor. The above table contains 16 photos and their
grid position for all three factors (perception, table 2). For example, Indian python was
disliked by participants therefore it is scored at -2 for respondents grouped under factor 1, +1
for factor 2 andfor factor 3 it was scored at +2. For factor 1 the most liked species by
participants is Indian hare and most disliked species is wild boar. Most liked species for
factor 2 is Indian leopard and most disliked animal is fruit bat. For factor 3, most liked
species is Indian hare scored at +3 and most disliked species is wild boar scored at -3 by the
participants.
PITHVA & DHARAIYA
Perception of forest staff about wildlife
Prithivya | August 2021 33
Table 3: Aggregate factor values of each 16 photos
Aggregate values
No.
Photos
Factor 1
Factor 2
Factor 3
1
Indian python
-2
1
2
2
Hanuman langur
0
0
2
3
Monitor lizard
-1
-2
-1
4
Red-wattled lapwing
1
-1
1
5
Sloth bear
2
2
0
6
Indian hare
3
1
3
7
Leopard
2
3
0
8
Grey francolin
1
-1
-1
9
Indian giant flying squirrel
1
1
-2
10
Blue bull
0
0
0
11
Small Indian civet
0
0
-1
12
Fruit bat (Flying fox)
-1
-3
-2
13
Indian cobra
-2
2
1
14
Barn owl
0
0
0
15
Indian chameleon
-1
-1
0
16
Wild boar
-3
-2
-3
Factor 1: Economic impact
This factor was described by 8 participants mainly concerning economic impact. Animals
that cause harm economically by destroying crops and threat to human life and livestock.
Participants of factor 1 thinks fruit bat, Indian python and Indian cobra causes high level of
economic harm. Grey francolin is scored +1 due to its contribution to reduce impact by eating
pest insects from agricultural field. Though the most disliked animal is wild boar for factor 1
as shown in table 3.
PITHVA & DHARAIYA
Perception of forest staff about wildlife
Prithivya | August 2021 34
Table 4: Distinguishing photos for factor 1
Factor 2: Aesthetic, spiritual values and conservation aspects
This factor explains aesthetic, spiritual values and conservation aspects which includes
appearance, tourist attraction, rehabilitation and religious belief. There are 7 responses in this
factor (table 2). Respondents are observed to have negative opinions towards animals which
play major role in economic loss but positive towards animal’s beauty and its natural
charisma. Table 5 shows how score of animals for factor 2 is different from the score of
factor 1 and factor 3. For example, Indian cobra is scored at +2 in factor 2 as it is attractive to
participants but it is scored -2 for factor 1 as it threatens human life.
Table5: Distinguishing photos for factor 2
Photo
ID
Photos
Grid
position
for
Factor 1
Z-score
of
Factor 1
Grid
position
for
Factor 2
Z-score
of
Factor 2
Grid
position
for
Factor 3
Z-score
of
Factor 3
13
Indian cobra
-2
-1.19
2
1.27
1
0.37
6
Indian hare
3
1.48
1
0.67
3
1.89
1
Indian python
-2
-1.03
1
0.34
2
1.22
4
Red-wattled
lapwing
1
0.14
-1
-0.65
1
0.79
16
Wild boar
-3
-1.89
-2
-1.25
-3
-2.01
Photo
ID
Photos
Grid
position
for
Factor
1
Z-score
of
Factor
1
Grid
position
for
Factor
2
Z-score
of
Factor
2
Grid
position
for
Factor
3
Z-score
of
Factor 3
8
Grey francolin
1
0.95
-1
-0.46
-1
-0.67
12
Fruit bat (Flying
-1
-0.2
-3
-1.82
-2
-1.1
1
Indian python
-2
-1.03
1
0.34
2
1.22
13
Indian cobra
-2
-1.19
2
1.27
1
0.37
PITHVA & DHARAIYA
Perception of forest staff about wildlife
Prithivya | August 2021 35
Factor 3: Lack of awareness
This factor describes lack of awareness which includes lack of interest compared to other
animals and species. This factor mainly concerns individuals who lacks knowledge, proper
information and are not aware about the species. For example, in table 6, the score of Indian
giant flying squirrel differs from factor 3 to factor 1 and 2 as it is scored at -2, +1 and +1
respectively. The justification for negative score given by the participants is that they are not
aware about the presence of the species therefore they do not have any information on the
species.
Table 6: Distinguishing photos for factor 3
Photo
ID
Photos
Grid
position
for
Factor 1
Z-score
of
Factor
1
Grid
position
for
Factor 2
Z-score
of
Factor
2
Grid
position
for
Factor 3
Z-score
of
Factor 3
1
Indian python
-2
-1.03
1
0.34
2
1.22
2
Hanuman langur
0
-0.2
0
-0.45
2
1.10
13
Indian cobra
-2
-1.19
2
1.27
1
0.37
5
Sloth bear
2
1.38
2
1.35
0
-0.00
7
Leopard
2
1.33
3
1.81
0
-0.00
9
Indian giant flying
squirrel
1
0.96
1
0.62
-2
-1.22
Conclusion:
The perception of forest field staff was better understood using Q method analysis
considering various aspects. It is seen that participants tend to like animals such as Indian
leopard, sloth bear, Hanuman langur and Indian hare as they are scored positive or neutral.
The animals that are not given negative score in any factor due to their appearance, are seen
frequently and does not lack awareness. It is observed from the data that frontline forest staff
lacks knowledge about animals that are not seen or present in their forest range/beat. As
frontline forest staff, they should be aware about existence of animal species that are found in
Gujarat state along with their ecological importance, threats and conservation values. Some
participants were not even aware about the existence of the species in the wild such as Indian
giant flying squirrel. Although, being frontline forest staff, their perception is biased towards
animals such as wild boar, monitor lizard and flying fox bat due to the economic loss they
PITHVA & DHARAIYA
Perception of forest staff about wildlife
Prithivya | August 2021 36
may cause and weird appearance. Their perception becomes the same as a common man
when every animal should be equal to frontline forest staff as it is their job to protect forest
and its animals. Some participants believe in superstitions of bad luck of barn owl and
monitor lizard which shows their common man perception and lack of right information.
Recommendations:
A separate training or workshops should be organised by forest department focused on
animal species found in Gujarat. This will help them enhancing their existing knowledge and
it will provide them with some scientific insights. Having basic scientific knowledge will
help remove some barriers like superstitions and other beliefs. Field trips should be organised
in different part of state to gain practical experience. Team building activities should be
conducted between staff of different forest divisions.
Acknowledgements:
We are thankful to all the forest field staff who participated in this survey. We also thank to
the Deputy Conservator of Forests, Vadodara Wildlife Division of Gujarat Forest Department
and sincerely acknowledge the help from our research team members.
References:
Brown, S. R. (1980). Political subjectivity: applications of Q methodology inpolitical science.
E. Ramlo, S., and Newman, I. (2011). Q Methodology and Its Position in the Mixed-Methods
Continuum. Operant Subjectivity, 34(3), 172191.
McKeown, B. and Thomas, D. B. (1988). Q Methodology. SAGE Publications
R. Brown, S. (1993). A Primer on Q Methodology. Operant Subjectivity, 16(3/4), 91138.
Ramlo, S. E. (2008). Determining the various perspectives and consensus within a classroom
using Q methodology. AIP Conference Proceedings, 1064, 179182.
https://doi.org/10.1063/1.3021248
Suggested citation:
Pithva K and Dharaiya N (2021). Does the contemplation of forest field staff about wildlife differ
than a common man? Prithivya, An Official Newsletter of WCB Research Foundation and WCB
Research Lab. Vol 1(2) 28-36.
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
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