Many studies have examined adults' perceptions of and attitudes toward large carnivores to assess human-wildlife conflict and inform conservation strategies, but there have been few studies concerning children. I studied secondary school students' perceptions of and attitudes toward brown bears (Ursus arctos) and other large mammals in Turkey via a questionnaire survey. The questionnaire, consisting of 18 questions, was completed by 215 rural and 98 urban secondary school students. Both sets of students liked bears; they were also afraid of them and unsure about living with them in the future. While there were no gender differences in attitudes and perceptions, there were marked differences between urban and rural students. Urban students had less contact with nature, gained more of their knowledge about bears from documentaries, and had less positive attitudes toward bears. They were also more likely to be afraid of species not present in Turkey, for example, anaconda, while rural students were most afraid of wild boars. Factor analysis identified three important themes: familiarity with bears, conservation of bears, and experiencing conflict with bears, which explained 49.8% of the variance in attitudes toward bears. The most important factor for the development of negative attitudes toward bears was personal experience of human-bear conflict, suggesting that measures to reduce human-bear conflict in rural areas may help to sustain students' positive attitudes toward the conservation of bears.
|Author Address||Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, The Old Schools, Trinity Ln, Cambridge CB2 1TN, UK.firstname.lastname@example.org|
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