Tiger populations have declined dramatically. The World Wildlife Fund reports that 97% of wild tigers have disappeared in just over 100 years, and as few as 3,200 of these endangered animals are left in the wild. While some areas have been dedicated as tiger reserves, scientists are reporting a finding in Nepal that shows some tigers are changing their behaviors in order to successfully co-exist with humans.
According to TG Daily, tigers in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park have become increasingly nocturnal and the change in behavior has helped them and humans inhabit the same areas. About 121 tigers call Chitwan home, and while humans live on the borders of the park, they also enter the park through the same roads and paths traveled by the tigers. However, motion-detecting cameras have captured thousands of images, revealing to scientists that the tigers and humans are using the same paths at different times of day.
While tigers typically roam their territory at various hours of the day, these tigers have become increasingly nocturnal, and the people generally avoid going into the forest at night. Reportedly, this tiger population has remained steady. “If we operate under the traditional wisdom that tigers only can survive with space dedicated only for them, there would always be conflict. Tigers need to use the same space as people if they are to have a viable long-term future. What we’re learning in Chitwan is that tigers seem to be adapting to make it work,” says Neil Carter, a PhD student at Michigan State University.
Carter adds, “There appears to be a middle ground where you might actually be able to protect the species at high densities and give people access to forest goods they need to live. If that’s the case, then this can happen in other places, and the future of tigers is much brighter than it would be otherwise.”
Despite encroachment on tiger habitats by humans, and the ever-present threat of poachers, there are some positives. This isn’t the only good news for tigers coming out of Nepal. Tiger numbers in Nepal’s Bardia National Park have doubled since 2009, a report recently celebrated by Leonardo DiCaprio. Nepal has also committed to their goal “TX2,” an effort to double tiger populations by the next year of the tiger – 2022.
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