Knowledge and perceptions of birds of prey among local inhabitants in Chile: implications for the biological control of rodent pests
ABSTRACT The aim of this study was to understand the level of knowledge and the perceptions of a local population with a high indigenous component (38.5%) towards birds of prey in order to address wildlife conservation strategies. We determined knowledge of birds of prey and biological control of rodent pests by applying a closed questionnaire; and perceptions of these species by applying a perception survey. Our study subjects were rural and urban residents in southern Chile. The results indicate low levels of knowledge about birds of prey and mainly positive perceptions, despite the presence of superstitions about raptors. These findings show the importance of socio-cultural dimensions and their implications for environmental education - which should be oriented towards changing attitudes to target species and particularly belief systems which determine attitudes. These changes are very important for raptor conservation programmes and reliance on raptors for the biological control of rodent pests.