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, 36 (3), 275-82

Risk and Opportunity for Humans Coexisting With Large Carnivores

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Risk and Opportunity for Humans Coexisting With Large Carnivores

A Treves et al. J Hum Evol.

Abstract

Models of Plio-Pleistocene hominid behavioral ecology often emphasize competition with large carnivores. This paper describes competition between modern humans and large carnivores in rural Uganda, including active, confrontational scavenging of carnivore kills by humans and carnivore attacks on humans. Information gathered from Ugandan Game Department archives (1923-1994) reveals that twentieth-century agropastoralists regularly tried to scavenge from leopard (Panthera pardus) and lion (Panthera leo) kills, and that these large carnivores have preyed on hundreds of humans in Uganda over the past several decades. Men were most often targets of carnivore attack, particularly while engaged in hunting-related activities. However attacks on men were less often lethal than attacks on women and children. Analyses show that lion attacks were more dangerous than leopard attacks. These data support recent contentions that hominids armed with even simple weapons can succeed in active, confrontational scavenging by chasing carnivores from kills. Hominids sharing East African habitats with large carnivores may have been regularly subject to attack.

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