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In the forest of central India, the sloth bear (Melursus ursinus) is the most dangerous wild animal because it is unpredictable and often attacks humans. When humans enter sloth bear habitat or sloth bears enter crop fields, conflicts occur that cause numerous human casualties. We documented conflicts between humans and sloth bears in Madhya Pradesh, India, using forest department records, interviews with villagers, and surveys within sloth bear habitat. From April 1989 to March 1994 there were 735 human casualties; 48 were fatal. Most casualties (253, 74%) occurred in forests between April and October. Human casualties can be reduced by restricting human entry into sloth bear habitat (especially foraging areas), regulating the human harvest of sloth bear forage, avoiding camping in sloth bear habitat (especially at water sources), and obtaining additional data on sloth bear ecology. Without active management, local inhabitants will not support conserving the sloth bear.
Wildlife Society Bulletin (1973-2006) © 2000 Wiley