, Volume 22, Issue 12, pp 2785-2794
Date: 03 Sep 2013

Comparative evaluation of tiger reserves in India

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Abstract

Evidence is vital. Understanding what interventions are effective is critical for the conservation of wild tigers and conservation biology in general. We evaluated the effectiveness of tiger reserves within India, a country with more than half of the estimated wild tiger population, with comparative effectiveness research. Other complex environments, medicine and business use these techniques where cause and effects are often non-linear. These techniques also allowed us to evaluate data from the small sample size often seen in conservation interventions. The opinions of three tiger experts were used to generate a list of seven tiger reserves classified as successful and five reserves as failures. We also used expert opinion to identify any key individuals that garnered widespread support for tiger conservation at any of the identified reserves. Using data from the Indian Census, World Database on Protected Areas, and the Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center, we analyzed the human population around the tiger reserves. We found two surprising insights that have received scant attention in the peer-reviewed literature. First, one can achieve tiger conservation success even within a densely populated human landscape where a high percentage of the population is involved in agriculture. Second, the presence of “conservation champions” can dramatically affect the performance of individual reserves and have positive outcomes for tiger conservation.