Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Michael G. Maxfield

Committee Members

Ronald V. Clarke

James P. Lynch

Subject Categories

Behavior and Ethology | Biology | Criminology and Criminal Justice


human-wildlife conflict, leopard, wildlife crime, retaliatory killing, situational crime prevention, environmental criminology


Habitat destruction and pollution are two of the main causes for the decline of the planet’s biodiversity. Yet environmentalists are now recognizing that illegal wildlife killings, both poaching and retaliatory killings due to human-wildlife conflict, are perhaps the next major threat. Biologists have researched illegal killings and their effect on species conservation, but few researchers have applied criminological principles of crime reduction to them. This research will explore the situational factors that drive retaliatory leopard killings in parts of South Africa, Kenya, and India. These factors, human and environmental, include local expectations from wildlife, sensitivity to environmental issues, communication between conservation actors, leopard abundance, land-use overlap between humans and leopards, and poor leopard habitat conditions. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods (interview and media article content analysis and logistic regression and non-parametric tests) are used to understand which factors best predict where human-leopard conflicts will arise and deteriorate into retaliatory leopard killings. Strategies to reduce the incidence of retaliatory leopard killings are suggested based on the 25 techniques of situational crime prevention.