Coexistence in culture
Coexistence with tigers is something that has happened for generations, right across the indigenous range of wild tigers. In Kerinci Seblat, Sumatra, each village is believed to have an ancestor that has taken the form of a tiger, guarding their village from harm. As such, tigers are often called nenek, or grandmother.
In India, the tiger is revered as the national animal. Tribes such as the Idu Mishmi hold the tiger in special kinship to man. Killing tigers is compared to murdering a member of one’s own family and so is morally prohibited in Idu society.
What is Conflict Mitigation?
‘Conflict Mitigation’, as a conservation priority can focus on awareness-raising and education within local communities; or, by providing hands-on interventions with animals that have come into a direct human-wildlife conflict.
We support organisations such as PRNCO who work collaboratively with NGOs and the Government. Their remit is to ensure that conflict tigers are safely removed from situations where they have come into conflict with humans (or livestock). Their priority is to keep tigers living in the wild wherever possible.
WildCats have also supported the infamous Tiger Day Parade in Vladivostok, that brings together the whole city and surrounding villages in a celebration of the beautiful big cats that roam the wilds of the Russian Far East.
With so much evidence-based research and work being done to improve human-wildlife coexistence, it is particularly shocking to read this quote, taken from an online news article:
“Shooting a tiger is a tool of conservation, and I’m a conservationist… All over, national parks should have a boundary wall, and we should keep our all tigers and elephants inside it. Neither humans should enter the forest, nor should the animals come out of the forest. Big cats and human beings cannot coexist with each other.”
Debunking these claims
In the same state of Maharashtra, TRACT shows a positively different story of coexistence with tigers, highlighting over a decade of research into human-tiger conflicts around Tadoba reserve.
The film highlights findings from this paper, following years of detailed research into conflict situations.
The film shows the detailed nature of how conservationists are working with local communities to rebuild trust in the value of coexistence with tigers. By empowering local villages to take ownership of their relationship with both wild tigers and the Forestry Department, the situation in Tadoba couldn’t be more different to attitudes expressed in this news article.
With a human population that shows no signs of slowing, it becomes imperative that we continue to focus efforts on projects that mitigate the risks of living alongside predators. There is a big difference between preserving wild populations and conserving them.
Wild tigers deserve more than to be preserved in shrinking fragments of protected land.
By Crissie Constantinou, WildCats Conservation Alliance.