Honors Theses and Capstones

Date of Award

Spring 2013

Project Type

Senior Honors Thesis

College or School




Program or Major

Geography- Environmental

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Joel N. Hartter


Studies suggest households closest to parks and protected areas (PAs) are more likely to sustain park-related losses, but the relationship between human sickness and PAs has not been fully explored. Existing literature primarily focuses on human-wildlife conflicts (i.e. crop raiding) and the potential for zoonotic disease spillover and emergence at the human-livestock-wildlife interface at PA boundaries. Understanding local perceptions of disease risk and vulnerability is essential for assessing human health relative to conservation areas. This understanding will promote better-informed consideration of human health impacts in decision making for conservation. Data from surveys taken at 301 households around Kibale National Park (KNP), an important conservation area, were used to identify risk perception and factors influencing perceived disease risk and vulnerability. Human sickness was the most frequently cited worry by respondents (88%) and malaria was the most frequently cited illness (80.1 %). Those living closer to PAs may be at greater risk for park-related harm and cited more frequent cases of malaria and non-malarial fever. The perception of high risk for human sickness is pervasive across the region independent of household distance to the park and actual disease risk.


This project would not have been possible without the help and guidance of my advisor, Joel Hartter. Thank you so much for allowing me to use your data and for helping me finally finish this project.