You are invited to a Lunch Talk & Discussion:
Bringing Tigers Back from the Brink:
Community and Conservation
Sponsored by the Competitive Enterprise Institute
Visiting speaker: Barun Mitra, Liberty Institute, New Delhi
Time: 12:00 - 1:30pm
Location: Competitive Enterprise Institute -- 1899 L St. NW, Floor 12, Washington, D.C.
Tigers are among the most critically endangered species in the world. India is home to the largest number of wild tigers in the world, with an estimated 1,700 animals spread over 43 national parks, across 19 states.
In the past decade, tigers were found to be locally extinct in two national parks in the country; Sariska in Rajasthan in 2004, and Panna in Madhya Pradesh in 2009. In both these places, tigers were translocated from nearby reserves, to rebuild the local population.
The initiative in Panna is really unique, in the sense that of the five tigers (four females and one male) that were reintroduced, two of the tigresses were rewilded from captivity. This was first time that orphaned tigers, which were hand raised for about 2 years, and then rewilded by placing them in relatively large enclosures and provided with live prey animals, were released in Panna in 2011. These tigresses have now settled down and one of them has already given birth to two sets of litters.
This initiative opens new avenues which could help secure the biological survival of tigers in the wild. It follows a similar initiative at rewilding of the south China tigers, which has been going on in the Lahou Valley Reserve (LVR) in South Africa for nearly a decade now. The experience in Panna and LVR clearly demonstrate that captive born tigers can be successfully rewilded and reintroduced. Rewilding opens up a completely new avenue in the conservation plan for large carnivores.
But the challenge is not just to nurture and sustain a habitat with adequate prey base so that large predators like the tigers can survive on their own. The real challenge for conservation is the lack of sympathy of local communities living in and around tiger reserves, for the cause of conservation.
Wild animals damage property, destroy crops, and cause loss of life. And the largely poor rural communities need land for agriculture and economic development. The traditional approach has been to try and move people away from nature reserves, but in a densely populated country like India, that is not a very viable option, neither socially, politically nor economically.
In order to win over the communities to the cause of conservation, there is a need to rethink land rights and wildlife laws, so that communities directly benefit from conservation of the rich biodiversity surrounding them. With clear land titles and well defined property rights, incentives may be created for the communities to proactively support the cause of conservation because they may enjoy the benefits. It is not necessary for people to live in poverty, amidst such wealth of flora and fauna.
Liberty Institute, New Delhi
www.InDefenceofLiberty.org | www.RighttoProperty.org | www.SavetheTigerInitiative.org