Take necessary measures to contain human-tiger conflicts

Published On: November 28, 2023 08:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

In a recent and tragic turn of events, the serene landscapes surrounding Chitwan National Park (CNP) have been marred by the specter of tiger-human conflict. The incident involving a female tiger, suspected of killing two individuals in Makwanpur, serves as a stark reminder that as Nepal celebrates its conservation success in doubling the tiger population, the nation must now confront the unintended consequences of its achievement. Chitwan National Park's Information Officer, Ganesh Prasad Tiwari, reported that the 10-year-old female tiger responsible for the recent fatalities has been neutralized and transported to Kasara. However, this incident is not isolated; it is emblematic of a growing issue of human-wildlife conflict, particularly in the proximity of Chitwan and Bardiya national parks.

The commendable success story of Nepal doubling its tiger population over the past 12 years is indeed a milestone in global conservation efforts. However, the cost of this achievement is now evident in the form of increased encounters between tigers and humans. As tiger density rises, territorial fights among these wild cats and the depletion of wild prey force them to venture beyond protected areas, leading to conflicts with humans. The dispersed tigers, especially the young or injured, seek marginal areas as their territory, often encroaching on human habitats in search of food. The result is a disturbing pattern of human-tiger conflicts, turning them into habitual threats to human life and livestock. Tigers, not naturally inclined to prey on humans, find themselves relying on this unnatural source of sustenance due to environmental pressures.

The success of tiger conservation has undeniably brought positive impacts, notably in the realm of eco-tourism. Nepal's conservation achievements attract tourists, fostering the growth of the hospitality industry and creating employment opportunities for local communities. Moreover, the presence of tigers indicates a healthy ecosystem, maintaining a balance in the food chain. However, the pressing issue at hand requires a reevaluation of the conservation framework. The rise in human-tiger conflicts calls for a holistic approach that prioritizes coexistence between humans and wildlife. Strategies must address contemporary challenges and emerging issues, promoting harmony between the two rather than prioritizing one over the other. Efforts must focus on improving prey density by protecting habitats, managing competition with livestock, and reintroducing large prey species in order to reduce human-tiger conflict. It is equally important to deploy expert teams to capture and manage man-eater tigers, either through rehabilitation, captivity in zoos, or release into core forest areas. 

Furthermore, local communities play a pivotal role in conflict management, necessitating their involvement through public education and outreach campaigns. Conservation education should be widespread, fostering an understanding of tiger ecology and behavior, and altering perceptions to view tigers as assets rather than threats. Alternative energy sources should be provided to reduce dependence on forests, mitigating encounters with tigers. Compensation and insurance programs for victims, both human and livestock, are essential to foster local acceptance of tigers and deter retaliatory killings. As Nepal navigates the challenges of human-tiger conflict, it must champion interdependence, recognizing that the well-being of both humans and tigers is intertwined. Only through collaborative efforts and sustainable strategies can Nepal continue to be a global leader in tiger conservation while ensuring the safety and prosperity of its communities.

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