Who Killed the Tiger? Understanding the Social Factors Affecting Tiger Conservation in India

Project Summary

Protected Areas (PAs) are considered among the most important refuges of biodiversity on the planet. This approach to biodiversity conservation has an inherent challenge. The different stakeholders in these ecosystems often disagree on the appropriate use of the ecosystem, and can create conflict. This issue is particularly relevant in developing countries, which often have a high range of biodiversity, large human populations, an acute dependence on natural resources, and high rates of poverty. Creation of protected areas is not always agreeable to local communities, and can lead to conflict in management. The result may jeopardize protected areas and create antagonism against them.

All the above issues are represented intensely in the conservation of the tiger. The tiger is a potentially-dangerous predator, found in parts of the world with the most dense and poorest human populations. In these contexts, protecting the tiger through protected areas can become a grave political challenge. Such challenges in environmental issues are best dealt with by democratic governments, which also are considered the most legitimate and ideal for reflecting the concerns of their citizens. How, then, does the world’s largest democracy work to protect the world’s largest population of wild tigers? To answer this question, this research will improve our understanding of the influence that stakeholders have on tiger conservation, with a focus on India.

This research aims to:

1) Analyze the societal discourse on tiger conservation issues in India using media sources to provide an assessment of popular perceptions;

2) Compare tiger conservation issues across all of India’s Tiger Reserves, as perceived by Reserve managers;

3) Explore the pattern of relationships among stakeholders and their influence on tiger conservation through an in-depth ‘instrumental case study’ in one Tiger Reserve; and

4) Understand how perceptions among conservation professionals and stakeholders differ on the management challenges facing Tiger Reserves.

The results will inform future management actions and further the knowledge and science regarding protected areas for tiger conservation internationally.


This three-year project is funded by: