Public Release:  Communities prepared to be resettled for sake of conserving tigers

University of Kent

Undertaken by researchers from the University's Durrell Institute for Conservation and Ecology (DICE), the research evaluates the ecological and habitat needs of wildlife in the region and the socio-economic needs and priorities of the local forest-dependent community, known as the Gujjars.

The research aims to provide an objective framework for conservationists and policymakers to prioritise efforts in order to reach their goal of doubling tiger numbers by 2022.

Described in two published papers, the research provides evidence that recovery of wild tiger populations can be achieved hand-in-hand with meeting the livelihood aspirations of the Gujjars.

In the first part of the research, the team found that by reintroducing tigers into a section of the landscape that suffers from a lack of connectivity to high density tiger populations, as well as carrying out targeted actions to recover important tiger prey at specific sites across the landscape, there was the potential to increase tiger populations by around 68%.

Results from the second part showed an overwhelming preference among Gujjars households interviewed for resettlement outside the forests. This signalled an unexpected opportunity to expand inviolate habitat for tigers in a specific human-dominated landscape by meeting larger livelihood issues for local people, such as better access to education and health services.

Principal researcher, Abishek Harihar of DICE, said: 'With targets to double tiger numbers by 2022, our research could mark a significant change in tiger conservation in India and across tiger range countries. Likewise, it can provide an objective framework for conservationists and policy makers to focus their conservation priorities on ways to delineate "inviolate core" and "areas of coexistence."

Dr Douglas MacMillan, Professor of Conservation and Applied Resource Economics in DICE, said: 'Although this may not be a solution in all contexts across the tiger range worldwide, we have established that relocation of people at least in this instance would suggest that policy makers have the potential to create a win-win solution for both tigers and local communities.'

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The research is available across two papers:

Identifying realistic recovery targets and conservation actions for tigers in a human-dominated landscape using spatially explicit densities of wild prey and their determinants (Abishek Harihar, Douglas C. MacMillan from DICE, and Dr Bivash Pandav from the Wildlife Institute of India) published in Diversity and Distributions.

and

Human resettlement and tiger conservation - Socio-economic assessment of pastoralists reveals a rare conservation opportunity in a human-dominated landscape (Abishek Harihar, Douglas C. MacMillan from DICE, and Mousumi Ghosh-Harihar from the Wildlife Institute of India) published in Biological Conservation,

DICE is part of the University of Kent's School of Anthropology and Conservation.

Notes to editor

1) The study was carried in the western Terai Arc Landscapes, an area which spans 7000km² the Himalayan foothill forests and is situated in the Indian states of Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

2) For further information or interview requests contact Katie Scoggins in the Press Office at the University of Kent
Tel: 01227 823581/01634 888879
Email: K.Scoggins@kent.ac.uk

News releases can also be found at http://www.kent.ac.uk/news
University of Kent on Twitter: http://twitter.com/UniKent

3) The University of Kent - the UK's European university - was established at Canterbury in 1965. It has almost 20,000 students and operates campuses or study centres at Canterbury, Medway, Tonbridge, Brussels, Paris, Athens and Rome. It has long-standing partnerships with more than 100 major European universities and many others across the world, including institutions in Argentina, China, Japan, USA, Canada, Malaysia and Peru.

Kent is one of the few universities to be consistently rated by its own students as one of the best in the UK for the quality of its teaching and academic provision. This includes its position amongst the top 10 multi-faculty universities for overall satisfaction in the 2013 National Student Survey, positioning it within a select band of institutions that have achieved an overall satisfaction rate of 90% and above. It was also ranked 20th in the 2014 Guardian University Guide, 28th in the Sunday Times University League Table 2013, and 28th in the Complete University Guide 2014.

In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise, Kent placed 24th out of 159 participating institutions in the UK for its world-leading research, while 97% of its academic staff work in schools or centres where the research is rated as either internationally or nationally excellent.

It is worth £0.6 billion to the economy of the South East, with its students contributing £211 million to that total. The University also supports directly or indirectly almost 6,800 jobs in the South East (source: Viewforth Consulting, 2009-10).

In 2012, Kent launched a campaign to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

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