This paper provides the first in-depth exploration of tiger killing behaviour in communities bordering the Sundarbans mangrove forest, Bangladesh. Our findings demonstrate the complexity of carnivore killing behaviour in situations of human–wildlife conflict. We find that killings are not purely retaliatory in nature (i.e. driven by a desire for retribution following livestock depredation or attacks on humans by tigers), and that previous negative experience of tigers is not the sole determinant of villagers’ acceptance of killing behaviour. Inter-related socio psychological factors (risk perceptions, beliefs about tigers and the people that kill tigers, general attitude towards tigers), perceived failings on the part of local authorities whom villagers believe should resolve village tiger incidents, perceived personal rewards (financial rewards, enhanced social status, medicinal or protective value of tiger body parts), and contextual factors (the severity and location of tiger incidents) motivate people to kill tigers when they enter villages and foster the widespread acceptance of this behaviour. The complexity of these factors highlights the need for conservation practitioners to explore and understand people’s motivations for killing endangered carnivore species, in order to address better the community-led killing of these animals. For the Sundarbans area, knowledge of these motivational factors can be used to develop conservation actions suitable for developing both communities’ capacity and, crucially, desire to co-exist with tigers and to respond with non-lethal action to village tiger incidents.
Chloe Inskip, Zubair Fahad, Rowan Tully, Thomas Roberts, Douglas MacMillan, Understanding carnivore killing behaviour: Exploring the motivations for tiger killing in the Sundarbans, Bangladesh. Biological Conservation, Volume 180, December 2014, 42-50