Urvi Gupta, Q. Qureshi, Nishant Kumar
Mar 12, 2020
Journal name not available for this finding
1.Inductive generalisations based on folk perceptions for animals complement anthropogenic impacts that affect non-human species in myriad ways. Despite the surge in research on urban ecosystems, there is a poor understanding of the importance of human perceptions that affect animal-guilds subsisting on urban food-subsidies. 2.We studied the cultural salience of representative commensal avian species that opportunistically thrive on anthropogenic resources and religious sentiments translating in ritual feeding in Delhi. We investigated people’s perceptions of representative avian scavengers, to understand the importance citizens attributed to their ecosystem services. We anticipated homogenising urban impacts over folk perceptions people registered for species-specific-interactions in tropical megacities. For this, we explored the prevalence of people-scavenger interactions or experiences represented in local terminology/folk taxonomy and systematics about black kites Milvus migrans, house crows Corvus splendens, and critically endangered vultures. 3.Folk perceptions varied across various stakeholders and were based on bird morphology and behaviour, and corresponding socio-cultural legends. People have coexisted with opportunistic scavengers, long before the advent of Linnaean systematics, implying a dynamic relationship under the purview of biocultural coevolution. Additionally, cultural values for these commensals, evident in ritual feeding practices, were crucial for the prevalence of inductive characterization, zoomorphism, and anthropomorphism. 4.The social-technological impacts on folk perceptions for animals we associate with rapid urban changes can potentially affect the political ecologies urban human-animal interface. Mediatisation and misinformation can mimetically evolve the existing trade-offs, pertinent to the human patronage and the practice of harnessing informal garbage-consumption by companion animals that are the culprit of conflicts and diseases. Frequently reported affective relationships of Indians for animals varied across the stakeholders likely due to urban-sprawl, demographic parameters, refuse management, and religio-cultural folktales. 5.Individually, scientific approaches lack scope concerning the scale of evidence for instinctive animal responses to the diverse, inductive folk practices of native stakeholders. Expansion of the purview of citizen science that factors integration of human socio-cultural estimates within scientific studies is, therefore, vital for human-animal coexistence. We suggest conservation implications of local and indigenous perception pathways about backyard biodiversity and rapidly homogenizing biophilic relationships in megacities.