Coexistence of people and carnivores

By Joern Fischer

I came across a nice new paper in PNAS and wanted to share some thoughts about it. The paper focuses on tigers in Nepal; but we have a similar situation with bears in Romania! That is, people are everywhere and so are tigers/bears. Yet, they somehow, peceafully, co-exist. How? Why? Some interesting thoughts on this in the new paper by Carter et al.: Coexistence between wildlife and humans at fine spatial scales.

 

This is a nice paper worth reading for everyone who is (1) interested in how people and nature can co-exist sustainably side-by-side, and (2) interested in “human-wildlife conflicts”.

Carter et al. study the area within and around Chitwan National Park in Nepal. They compare fine-scale spatial and temporal patterns of human activity with those of tiger activity. They find that humans and tigers can co-exist because they occupy different spatial and temporal niches at very fine spatial scales.

The main reason why I find this paper interesting is that it challenges the conventional view that people and carnivores cannot peacefully co-exist. In addition, the paper shows that protected areas may not be the only way to protect charismatic (and potentially dangerous) species such as tigers.

To my mind this study implies that it may be worthwhile to increasingly focus on how and why nature and people can co-exist; rather than framing studies as around “human-carnivore conflicts”.

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2 thoughts on “Coexistence of people and carnivores

  1. I had seen the paper when it came out, and liked it too. I also agree it gives a refreshing view; at least if we do not consider much the tiger side. What’s the effect of human avoidance on tiger fitness might be the complementary question.

    Then I’d say “the conflict” is in part a construct of developed human societies, those which could actually overcome conflicts easier due to better economic situations. What I mean is that “conflict” is pretty much a mindset, one that western European countries show deeply embedded. You get to hear that line of “unique cultural heritage” from every administrative division in the continent as a blockage to carnivore conservation / reintroduction; that includes of course northern Spain, from where I write, and where wolves are being shot in a national park due to, you name it, conflict.

    And I do not like much that idea of “uniqueness” because it seems to imply that folks in tiger, komodo, or croc country do not really have an interesting cultural heritage. Take for instance this line: “The influence of humans is just too strong in Europe to allow a return to a “natural” system” – it comes from a chapter in an important book on carnivores: Linnell et al. 2005. The linkage between conservation strategies for large carnivores and biodiversity: the view from the“ half-full” forests of Europe. In: Large carnivores and the conservation of biodiversity (eds. JC Ray, KH Redford, RS Steneck & J Berger). Island Press.

    Hope Romania stays wilder. Have they stopped subsidizing bears?
    Sorry the comment got too long; touched a nerve.

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