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To know a tiger is at least to start tolerating them, study shows
Date:7/31/2012

To protect a dangerous and endangered animal -- be it a tiger in Nepal or a wolf in Michigan - you really do have to ask people "how do you FEEL about your predatory neighbor?"

Effective conservation calls for not only figuring out what protected species need like habitat and food sources. It also requires an understanding of what it takes for their human neighbors to tolerate them. A Michigan State University doctoral student studying tigers in Nepal found that those feelings can provide critical information on how best to protect species.

"People have complex psychological relationships with wildlife," said Neil Carter, researcher in MSU's Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability (CSIS). "Picking apart these complex relationships is the best way to get a really good idea of what's affecting their tolerance of the animal."

The paper, "Utility of a psychological framework for carnivore conservation," is published Tuesday in Oryx, an international journal of conservation. Co-authors are Shawn Riley, MSU associate professor of fisheries and wildlife, and Jianguo "Jack" Liu, MSU University Distinguished Professor of fisheries and wildlife, who holds the Rachel Carson Chair in Sustainability and is CSIS director.

Carter has conducted research in Nepal's Chitwan National Park, home to some 125 adult tigers that live close to people. And tigers, like all wild animals, have little regard for borders or fences. Likewise, the tigers' human neighbors depend on the forests for their livelihoods. Conflict is inevitable. There were 65 human deaths due to tiger attacks from 1998 to 2006 and tigers are known to kill livestock. People sometimes kill tigers in response to these threats

Carter's work has developed a novel tool to help figure out where to direct conservation resources -- not just in Nepal, but also for conserving carnivores that live next to people in many regions of the world.

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Contact: Neil Carter
cartern7@msu.edu
858-414-0434
Michigan State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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