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17 janvier 2013 4 17 /01 /janvier /2013 08:37





COIMBATORE: Tigers are thriving in the forests of southern India, thanks to the absence of organised poaching gangs here. Recent studies have confirmed that tiger reserves in the south have a better record of conservation that the northern reserves. Officials indicate that the tiger population in the south is on the rise because poaching is low key and less organised.

It's not that tiger killings aren't reported at all. Officials contend that most of these are 'incidental crimes' committed by those who get a tiger while trying to kill a deer. They also get caught while trying to sell the tiger skins.

However, poaching is a serious problem in many parts of the country. Traps to capture the animals are readily available in the open in Orissa and Assam. Demand for tiger products too is high in countries like China where tiger bones are used to prepare native medicines. There are tiger farms in China, but the wild tigers are in more demand than those at the farms.

In states like Madhya Pradesh and Haryana, there are certain tribes like the Bawarias, Behelias, and the Katnis, who are gypsies who reportedly poach as well as trade in tigers. The poachers use methods which are simple but painful. They lay traps which are kept on paths to spots frequented by the animals like a pond. Tigers get trapped in them and poachers who lie in waiting nearby kill them and remove their skin and other parts. They know the mechanisms of poaching and the routes which makes detection impossible without precise intelligence.

According to the census data of the tigers released in 2011 by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, there are around 1,706 tigers in the country out of which 534 tigers are in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Karnataka with 300 tigers has the highest number of tigers among Indian states.



Tigers don’t have a reputation for being accommodating, but a new study indicates that the feared and revered carnivores in and around a world-renowned park in Nepal are taking the night shift to better coexist with their human neighbors.

The revelation that tigers and people are sharing exactly the same space – such as the same roads and trails – of Chitwan National Park flies in the face of long-held convictions in tiger conservation circles. It also underscores how successful conservation efforts need sciences that takes into account both nature and humans.

“As our planet becomes more crowded, we need to find creative solutions that consider both human and natural systems,” said Jianguo “Jack” Liu, who with PhD student Neil Carter and three Nepalese scholars wrote a paper published in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). “Sustainability can be achieved if we have a good understanding of the complicated connections between both worlds. We’ve found something very interesting is happening in Nepal that holds promise for both humans and nature to thrive.”

Liu is the director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS) at Michigan State University, where Carter studies.

Conventional conservation wisdom is that tigers need lots of people-free space, which often leads to people being relocated or their access to resources compromised to make way for tigers.

Neil Carter aligns a camera trap in ChitwanCarter spent two seasons setting motion-detecting camera traps for tigers, their prey and people who walk the roads and trails of Chitwan, both in and around the park. Chitwan, nestled in a valley of the Himalayas, is home to about 121 tigers. People live on the park’s borders, but rely on the forests for ecosystem services such as wood and grasses. They venture in on dirt roads and narrow footpaths to be ‘snared’ on Carter’s digital memory cards. The roads also are used by military patrols to thwart would-be poachers.

Carter’s analysis of the thousands of images show that people and tigers are walking the same paths, albeit at different times. Tigers typically move around at all times of the day and night, monitoring their territory, mating and hunting. But in the study area, Carter and his colleagues discovered that the tigers had become creatures of the night. The camera’s infrared lights document a pronounced shift toward nocturnal activity. People in Nepal generally avoid the forests at night. Essentially, quitting time for people signals starting time for Chitwan’s tigers. So far, it appears tiger population numbers are holding steady despite an increase in human population size.

“It’s a very fundamental conflict over resources,” Carter said. “Tigers need resources, people need the same resources. If we operate under the traditional wisdom that tigers only can survive with space dedicated only for them, there would always be conflict. If your priority is people, tigers lose out. If yourWomen gathering grass in Chitwan priority is tigers, people lose out.

“Conditions for tigers in Chitwan are good,” he continued. “Prey numbers are high, forests outside the park are regenerating, and poaching of tigers and their prey is relatively low. However, people of different stripes, including tourists and local residents, frequent the forests of Chitwan. Tigers need to use the same space as people if they are to have a viable long-term future. What we’re learning in Chitwan is that tigers seem to be adapting to make it work.”

Carter’s cameras give a rare look at activity.  Tigers globally may be out of sight, but not out of mind. Since the start of the 20th century, the world’s population of wild tigers has dropped by 97 percent to approximately 3,000 individuals. The world’s remaining tigers are being pushed into small spaces, and being able to share that space with humans is a critical survival skill.

“There appears to be a middle ground where you might actually be able to protect the species at high densities and give people access to forest goods they need to live,” Carter said. “If that’s the case, then this can happen in other places, and the future of tigers is much brighter than it would be otherwise.”


COMMENTAIRE DE SHAITANA KRISHNA (MONGABAY, 29 JANVIER) - qui renforce la nécessité des protocoles de capture/recapture, effarouchement et autres méthodes non létales (voir "Apprentissage véritable" du 6 février).

Nepal's Chitwan National Park was the site of a study, published in September 2012 by Carter and others, which concluded that, tigers coexist with humans at fine spatial scales. This paper has ignited a scientific debate regarding its implications for large carnivore conservation worldwide, with scientists at institutions worldwide questioning the validity of claims of coexistence. At the foundation of this debate, perhaps, is the unresolved question, "what is coexistence"? For some, 'coexistence' is a situation of mutual well-being, devoid of conflict. Carter and colleagues equate coexistence to humans and tigers using the same spatial locations, albeit at different times of the day. Whether such a definition, bereft of other influences, including dispersal, human-wildlife conflict and human perceptions of tigers is appropriate for the purposes of a conservation paradigm needs to be re-examined.

Tigers have been studied at Chitwan National Park since the 1970s and there is a rich body of knowledge on various aspects of their biology. Eminent carnivore biologist, Professor Melvin E Sunquist, noted that while tigers in Chitwan were mostly active at night, some daytime activity also occurred. The tigers, he concluded were matching their activity patterns with that of their prey. Tigers do not take the 'night shift' at Chitwan National Park just to 'coexist' with people, they have, in fact, evolved so. There is evidence that tigers are avoiding people in other ways. During the day, Carter and his colleagues found that tigers were four times more active inside the Park, which has fewer people as compared to outside the Park where there are more people. Moreover, the chances of detecting a tiger increased in areas further away from human settlements, perhaps indicating lower tiger activity with an increment in human presence. Moreover, tiger densities in these areas are 65-75% less than the density of 18 tigers per 100 km2 reported by Adam Barlow and colleagues in a different part of Chitwan! Thus avoidance was clearly occurring in space.

A clue to the low tiger densities in these areas lies in the mechanism of tiger dispersal. Sub-adult tigers or transients, leave their natal area and stake their claim to a piece of forest they can call home. Dispersal is a period of high risk in the lives of these territorial animals. Long-term tiger biologist Professor James L. David Smith studied tiger dispersal at Chitwan and found that while almost all female sub-adults established territories next to their mothers, male sub-adults moved away to poorer quality habitats, often coming into conflict with humans. Eventually, out of the ten young male tigers Professor Smith closely studied, only four survived. Such areas where a considerable number of tiger deaths occur are 'sinks' for tiger populations. A landscape comprising such 'sinks' in addition to regions of high survival for the species, or 'sources', forms the basis of the current conservation strategy for the species. Senior scientist at Wildlife Conservation Society, Dr. Ullas Karanth, warns that confusing human-dominated 'sinks' with 'sources' could sound the death knell for this endangered species.

A crucial obstacle to the consideration of coexistence as a conservation strategy in the Chitwan landscape is the high incidence of human-tiger conflict around the park. A study undertaken by Bhim Bahadur Gurung and colleagues suggests that as many as ninety people have been killed by tigers in the Chitwan landscape in the last three decades, while up to 20 tigers have been killed or captured as a management intervention by park authorities in the same period. The trend indicates that the incidence of conflict is increasing and human casualties attributed to tigers within the last decade at Chitwan were 9 times higher than casualties occurring in Bardia National Park. Bardia, also located in Nepal, is similar in size to Chitwan and has a comparable tiger density of 20 animals per 100 km2, as reported by Per Wegge and others. However, Bardia differs from Chitwan in one aspect; there is minimal overlap between tigers and humans, even in the buffer, reports biologist Babu Ram Bhattarai. The negative consequences of conflict in Chitwan is expressed in the perspectives of humans towards tigers and their conservation; in another study, Carter and colleagues report that 40% of the interviewees living adjacent to Chitwan National Park believe that, "tigers are a nuisance and that there is not enough room for both tigers and people in the nearby forests".

According to the BBC, increasing human-wildlife conflict in Nepal has resulted in government officials wanting to cap growth of wild animal populations in protected areas, including that of the already endangered tiger. In the face of these developments, mere spatial overlaps between humans and tigers cannot be touted as 'coexistence' in Chitwan. Research in multiple-use areas having implications for wildlife conservation and human well-being should reflect the on ground realities of both actors living in close proximity to each other.

CITATIONS: Varun R Goswami, Divya Vasudev, Divya Karnad, Y Chaitanya Krishna, Meghna Krishnadas, Milind Pariwakam, Tarun Nair, Anish Andheria, Sachin Sridhara, and Imran Siddiqui. 2013. Conflict of human-wildlife coexistence. PNAS 110(2): E108.

Abhishek Harihar, Pranav Chanchani, Rishi Kumar Sharma, Joseph Vattakaven, Sanjay Gubbi, Bivash Pandav, and Barry Noon. 2013. Conflating "co-occurrence" with "coexistence". PNAS 110(2): E109.

K Ullas Karanth, Arjun M Gopalaswamy, Krithi K Karanth, John Goodrich, John Seidensticker, and John G Robinson. 2013. Sinks as saviors: Why flawed inference cannot assist tiger recovery. PNAS 110(2): E110.

Carter, N. H., Shrestha, B. K., Karki, J. B., Pradhan, N. M. B., & Liu, J. 2013. Reply to Goswami et al., Harihar et al., and Karanth et al.: Fine-scale interactions between tigers and people. PNAS 110(2), E111-E112.

Carter, N. H., et al 2012. Coexistence between wildlife and humans at fine spatial scales. 10.1073/pnas.1210490109 PNAS September 18, 2012 vol. 109 no. 38 15360-15365

Chaitanya Krishna



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