Conserving biodiversity in human-dominated regions of the world is complex, particularly in case of large carnivores where perceived conflicts exist with economic development, expanding human populations and livelihoods. Using a systematic ‘bottom-up’ consultative framework, based on a choice modelling approach that accounts for heterogeneity in the population, we explore alternative strategies that meet conservation and human development goals. Focusing on the Gujjars, a pastoralist community in northern India our research identifies the community’s preferred government support measures to encourage coexistence with tigers. We find that direct losses from predation are secondary concerns compared to development measures despite these losses being comparable to other tiger landscapes.
Further we found that almost all sampled households (283/292) preferred resettlement over any form of coexistence, with positive preferences for larger land-sizes, the immediate and permanent transfer of property rights, a government-built house and the potential to generate a living from agro pastoralism. As resettlement would avoid conflict with tigers and lead to habitat and prey recovery, it follows that tiger conservation and human development goals could be best realized by securing vast areas of inviolate tiger habitat through community resettlement to acceptable locations away from tiger habitat. Although Gujjars in our case study prefer resettlement as the way forward, we highlight the need for a responsive policy and institutional framework that can accommodate local needs and ensure there are adequate opportunities for the creation of sustainable livelihoods within tiger habitats.
More generally, we show how different outcomes for tigers and humans can be explored empirically to generate better outcomes for carnivores and people at a landscape scale.
Abishek Harihar, Diogo Verissimo, Douglas C. MacMillan. Beyond compensation: Integrating local communities’ livelihood choices in large carnivore conservation Global Environmental Change 33 (2015) 122–130