Human-wildlife conflicts are common phenomena from the past and have become significant problems throughout the world. Big cats, which play a vital role in maintaining the ecosystem balance through prey-predator interaction, are now on the verge of extinction since they require large habitats, but much of their habitats have been fragmented and degraded. Therefore, frequent encounters with humans and their livestock have caused human-carnivore conflicts which result in retaliation killings. The high rate of human population growth and the successfully restored habitat in the community forests of Nepal have accelerated the conflicts due to the dispersal of tigers into these forests where they share these resources.
This study aimed at exploring the human-tiger conflict in terms of livestock depredation, human casualties, retaliation killing and poaching of tigers and their prey base. It assessed the tiger conservation perceptions and tolerance level of the local people to losses caused by tigers and the roles of different stakeholders in tiger conservation through mitigating human-tiger conflict. It explored strategies of conflict reduction for tiger conservation. The study was conducted in six Buffer Zone User Committees of The Bardia National Park, Nepal. I interviewed 273 heads of household, 10 nature guides, eight BZUC presidents, nine protected area managers and two local government representatives from March to May of 2009.
The average livestock holding among the respondent households was found to be 6.70 head of animals per household and the depredation rate due to tigers was 0.25 head per household per year. The consequential result was a 6% loss of stock over the past three years. The less-prey density area was associated with a high livestock depredation rate for cows/oxen and goats/sheep. Twelve people were killed and four injured in tiger attacks between 1994 and 2007. The perception relative to tiger conservation was found to be positive and people could tolerate the loss of livestock to some extent but not human loss or casualties. Four tigers were killed due to human-tiger conflict in between 1989 and April 2009. The interview results demonstrated that the tigers were killed primarily for trade of its body parts. Half of the respondents suggested tigers should be conserved in the national parks and reserves.