Ecological and sociological aspects of human-tiger conflicts in Chitwan National Park, Nepal

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Ecological and sociological aspects of human-tiger conflicts in Chitwan National Park, Nepal

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2008-07

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The human-tiger conflict has become a major threat to long-term tiger survival and well being of local people living around tiger reserves. Mitigation of this conflict is considered most critical in multiple use forested areas where tiger ecological needs and human livelihood needs overlap. My thesis seeks to gain a better understanding of this conflict. I investigated ecological and sociological aspects of man-eating cases in and around Chitwan National Park Nepal, with an ultimate aim of guiding mitigation policies and management. Additionally, I investigated the impact of grazing restrictions on livestock husbandry practices, and also evaluated the people's perceptions and tolerance towards tigers in Madi Valley, within the Chitwan National Park. I obtained three decades of man-eating cases (1979-2006), each case was re-examined by visiting victim's families, or person present at the time of the incidents. Likewise, tiger's responsible for killing these people were also re-investigated by visiting Park veterinarian and zoo records. The site of each human kill and tiger removal was visited to measure habitat conditions when kills were made and where man-eating tigers occurred. A total of 36 tigers killed 88 people from 1979-2006. The trend of human loss increased from an average of 1.21 persons per year prior to 1997 to 7.22 per year since 1998. The rising trend is due to primarily increasing number of people killed in the buffer zones surrounding the Park. I classified the sex, age classes, condition of man-eating tigers, and also evaluated prey base at kill sites, and aggressiveness of tigers when people came to remove victims for cremation. Nearly half of the people killed were grass/fodder cutters. In chapter 3 the impact of grazing restriction on livestock husbandry practices is examined. Household survey data and secondary information measured the impact of changing access policies. Households needed to reduce their holdings of unproductive livestock and to switch to stall feeding. Higher stall feeding required local people to gather more fodder and increased human activities in the recovering forest may contribute to increase man-eating. In chapter 4 local people's beliefs about the importance of tiger and their tolerance levels is assessed from head of the household surveys. The value and tolerance levels are analyzed based on household demographics, resource use, and interaction with tigers. Local people highly value but only have moderate tolerance for tigers. Higher valuing and tolerance for tiger were significantly influenced by household's wealth. Furthermore, poor people were found to live closer to forest, use more forest resources, have high livestock depredation resulting in lower valuing and tolerance levels for tigers. To mitigate the conflict I recommend radio-collaring problem tigers (particularly in the buffer zone) to collect tigers behavioral and movement patterns to create 'no go' zone, continue long term tiger monitoring program by extending the cooperation of the local communities, implement a tiger conservation awareness to educate local people on tiger biology, and improve compensation program to increase local tolerance towards tiger.

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University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2008. Major: Conservation Biology. Advisor: James L. David Smith. 1 compurt file (PDF); xiii, 144 pages.

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Gurung, Bhim Bahadur.. (2008). Ecological and sociological aspects of human-tiger conflicts in Chitwan National Park, Nepal. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/61788.

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