I increasingly come across research on large and powerful carnivores regarding how we humans perceive them, and as a result, how we relate with them.
Research is showing that the way people often relate to powerful carnivores is informed by their culture and their knowledge that is based on real life experience. Research in India is demonstrating that shepherds relate to leopards based on their strong belief that leopards are thinking beings.
So when one lives in a culture where knowledge of a particular carnivore is based on real life experiences AND the carnivore is viewed as a thinking being who is making choices …then negotiating relationships have a strong foundation in trust.
As I read some of the researchers more poignant thoughts, I can’t help but reflect upon the many occurrences our human species on this American continent has had with our native Wild Dog, Coyote. From early on our Native Peoples have viewed our Coyotes as thinking, multi-faceted beings. And as result have negotiated relationships with them of respect and mutual benevolence.
And today, I have met and have been in admiration of individuals who have negotiated these kinds of relationships with Coyote. When we come to understand that we are not the only actors, and that Coyotes do not relate to us with only static predetermined behavior, then this allows us to negotiate rewarding and respectful relationships with them.
This is truly the road we want to take! In our human dominated world, where more and more of our wildlife are forced to live in close proximity to us, our goal then as a species is to look upon powerful carnivores in such a way that we will be able to relate with them on reciprocal terms. They are waiting for us to understand this…..for they already do!