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Human resettlement and tiger conservation – Socio-economic assessment of pastoralists reveals a rare conservation opportunity in a human-dominated landscape

Harihar, Abishek, Ghosh-Harihar, Mousumi, MacMillan, Douglas C. (2014) Human resettlement and tiger conservation – Socio-economic assessment of pastoralists reveals a rare conservation opportunity in a human-dominated landscape. Biological Conservation, 169 (2). pp. 167-175. ISSN 0006-3207. (doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2013.11.012) (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

Resettlement of people for conservation is a contentious issue, but remains an important policy for conserving

species like tigers which require vast, inviolate habitats. Recommendations to resettle communities

should ideally be supported with careful evaluation of the needs of wildlife, socio-economic

characteristics of dependent communities and their attitudes, and we present one such case study. Using

a semi-structured questionnaire survey of 158 households across a gradient of tiger occupancy, we found

overwhelming preference for resettlement among pastoralist Gujjars and hence an unexpected conservation

opportunity to expand inviolate areas for tigers in the western Terai Arc Landscape. The main ‘push

factors’ identified were declining forest productivity adversely affecting incomes and lack of access to

education and health facilities. Thus, our findings represent a rare instance where excessive extraction

of natural resources, recognized to be detrimental for biodiversity, is also the primary driver for resettlement.

The desire for resettlement was also re-enforced by losses of livestock to diseases (72.7%) and carnivores

(25.1%), which was uncompensated in 89% of the cases, and positive experiences from previously

resettled households. Demand for resettlement was uniformly strong regardless of local tiger occupancy,

but we suggest that funding for resettlement be prioritized for households in high tiger occupancy areas,

given higher livestock depredation and possibilities for conflict. Our findings, therefore, represent a novel

landscape-level conservation strategy that takes account of socio-economic circumstances across a gradient

of predator pressure, and could build a constituency for tiger conservation among local communities

consistent with national and global objectives.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1016/j.biocon.2013.11.012
Uncontrolled keywords: Compensation, Human resettlement, Tigers, Livelihood, Livestock depredation
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Depositing User: Douglas MacMillan
Date Deposited: 12 Feb 2014 12:06 UTC
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2019 14:09 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/38244 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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