Powerless farmers may resent tigers

People from less powerful ethnic groups are more likely to view tigers negatively, according to a survey of residents in Nepal.

The researchers interviewed 499 people living near Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, a critical reserve for tiger conservation. Residents were asked whether they liked having tigers nearby, whether they wanted the number of tigers to increase or decrease, and whether their family members, friends, neighbors, or livestock had been attacked by tigers. The team also collected data on each person’s ethnic group, education level, and occupation.

People who were less educated or belonged to lower castes had more negative attitudes toward tigers, the team reports in AMBIO. The authors speculate that powerful ethnic groups may feel more generous toward tigers because the wildlife tourism industry supplies them with non-agricultural jobs such as cooking and and leading tours. In contrast, lower-caste farmers who collect wood and other materials from the forests may “resent the policies associated with tiger conservation, which restrict their access to forest products,” the researchers write. Roberta Kwok | 19 July 2013

Source: Carter, N.H. et al. 2013. Spatial assessment of attitudes toward tigers in Nepal. AMBIO doi: 10.1007/s13280-013-0421-7.

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