Human–Tiger Conflict in Context: Risks to Lives and Livelihoods in the Bangladesh Sundarbans

Abstract

People’s perceptions of the risk posed by wild animals to human lives and/or livelihoods can influence the rate at which people intentionally kill these species. Consequently, human–wildlife conflict (HWC) management strategies may benefit from the inclusion of actions which reduce risk perceptions. This study uses Participatory Risk Mapping (PRM) and semi-structured interviews to explore local perceptions and the wider socio-economic context of human–tiger conflict (HTC) in the Bangladesh Sundarbans area. Of the 24 locally-relevant problems identified by the PRM process, tigers were the only problem to be cited by >50 % of respondents. The ‘tiger problem’ was also perceived by villagers to be of relatively high severity. Negative perceptions of tigers in the Sundarbans communities are exacerbated by other locally-experienced poverty-related problems, as well cyclones, floods and soil erosion. Interactions between the problems experienced by villagers, including HTC, result in a complex ‘risk web’ which detrimentally affects lives and livelihoods and ultimately perpetuates poverty levels in the Sundarbans communities. This research demonstrates that PRM and in-depth, qualitative research can enhance understanding of the perceived magnitude and wider socio-economic context of risks from wildlife and aid the identification of risk perception management actions which may help to reduce the number of animals killed by people.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The term ‘retaliatory killing’ is used extensively in the HWC literature to describe the killing of conflict species. However, this term can be misleading as it presupposes that animals are killed by people only in response to conflict incidents such as livestock depredation and attacks on people. The term does not therefore, recognise the cultural, social and psychological factors which compound killing behaviour or the fact that some killings may be preventative, rather than responsive, in nature. As such the term is not used in this paper.

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Correspondence to Chloe Inskip.

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Inskip, C., Ridout, M., Fahad, Z. et al. Human–Tiger Conflict in Context: Risks to Lives and Livelihoods in the Bangladesh Sundarbans. Hum Ecol 41, 169–186 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10745-012-9556-6

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Keywords

  • Panthera tigris
  • Human–wildlife conflict
  • Risk perception
  • Poverty
  • Sundarbans