English | Dzongkha Saturday, January 19, 2019

Study finds evidence of tiger presence being helpful in reducing crop, livestock losses

Sonam Pem, Thimphu
Feb 9, 2018

A new study has revealed that areas with tigers experienced significantly fewer incidences of crop and livestock losses compared to those without tigers.

The findings of the study carried out by a research team from the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environmental Research (UWICER) come in the face of growing negative interaction of tigers, an endangered species, with humans.

The research is an effort to deter rural farmers from striking back against top predators such as tigers and instead encourage them to protect it.

Dr. Phuntsho Thinley, a Conservation Biologist with UWICER says the research findings provide evidence of how tigers contribute in reducing crop and livestock losses.

“When tigers are present in the vicinity together with leopards and dholes, because of the ecological dominance exerted by tigers, the leopards and the dholes are pushed more towards the periphery of the human settlements especially around the agricultural crop fields, and that’s where there is a high relative evidence of wild prey, which are also the crop depredators like wild pig and deer,” Dr. Phuntsho Thinley said.

“So, presence of a tiger in the village vicinity leads to driving out of the leopards and the wild dholes more towards the agricultural crop fields and that leads to increased predation of the wild pigs and because of that the crop damage is significantly reduced.”

He added that justifying the need to conserve tigers based on their iconic status does not work in convincing farmers to protect the top predator.

“In order to ensure the longevity of the endangered species like tigers and wild dog, we need to come up with more concrete evidence of how these animals are beneficial ecologically and to the rural socio-economy,” he said.

“Without such strong evidence, nowadays the field conservation practitioners are finding it more difficult to actually reduce or curb the incidences of retaliatory killing of wild predators as well as farmers developing more resentment towards conservationists.”

The study was conducted in 13 villages located in the Jigme Dorji National Park area.

The findings are expected to prove handy to tiger scientists, conservation donors and leaders of tiger range countries in committing towards doubling tiger numbers.

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