Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Tigers take the night shift to coexist with people

04.09.2012
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 conservation circles. It also underscores how successful conservation efforts need sciences that takes into account both nature and humans.


A tiger camera trapped in Chitwan National Forest in Nepal.

Credit: Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University

"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.

Carter 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 your 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."

In addition to Liu, who holds the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability, and Carter, the PNAS paper "Coexistence between wildlife and humans at fine spatial scales" was written by Binoj Shrestha of the Institute for Social and Environmental Research in Nepal, Jhamak Karki of Nepal's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and Narendra Man Babu Pradhan of the World Wildlife Fund in Nepal.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund and MSU AgBioReseach. It was part of the Partnership for International Research and Education among MSU, the University of Michigan and seven other institutions in the United States, Nepal, and China.

Sue Nichols | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.msu.edu

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht New mathematical model can help save endangered species
14.01.2019 | University of Southern Denmark

nachricht Foxes in the city: citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife
14.12.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Flying Optical Cats for Quantum Communication

Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.

In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...

Im Focus: Nanocellulose for novel implants: Ears from the 3D-printer

Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.

It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:

Im Focus: Elucidating the Atomic Mechanism of Superlubricity

The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.

One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...

Im Focus: Mission completed – EU partners successfully test new technologies for space robots in Morocco

Just in time for Christmas, a Mars-analogue mission in Morocco, coordinated by the Robotics Innovation Center of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI) as part of the SRC project FACILITATORS, has been successfully completed. SRC, the Strategic Research Cluster on Space Robotics Technologies, is a program of the European Union to support research and development in space technologies. From mid-November to mid-December 2018, a team of more than 30 scientists from 11 countries tested technologies for future exploration of Mars and Moon in the desert of the Maghreb state.

Close to the border with Algeria, the Erfoud region in Morocco – known to tourists for its impressive sand dunes – offered ideal conditions for the four-week...

Im Focus: Programming light on a chip

Research opens doors in photonic quantum information processing, optical signal processing and microwave photonics

Researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have developed a new integrated photonics platform that can...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

11th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Aachen, 3-4 April 2019

14.01.2019 | Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Velcro for human cells

16.01.2019 | Life Sciences

Kiel physicists discover new effect in the interaction of plasmas with solids

16.01.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

The pace at which the world’s permafrost soils are warming

16.01.2019 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>