News / Science & Technology

To Avoid Humans, Tigers Take Night Shift

A tiger’s eyes glow during the night on the same foot paths and roads humans use during the day to collect wood and grasses. (Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University)
A tiger’s eyes glow during the night on the same foot paths and roads humans use during the day to collect wood and grasses. (Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University)
Rosanne Skirble
Tigers don’t have a reputation for being very accommodating, but a new study challenges the long-held conservation belief that these large carnivores need lots of people-free space.  

This new understanding is especially critical because, since the start of the 20th century, the tiger population has declined by 97 percent to approximately 3,000 worldwide largely due to loss of habitat from encroaching cities and agriculture.  

Captured on camera

Michigan State University graduate student Neil Carter set up motion-detecting camera traps in and around Nepal’s Chitwan National Park to study human-tiger interaction.

The park, nestled in a valley of the Himalayas and protected by army patrols, is home to about 120 tigers.
Tiger Conservation
Tiger Conservationi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X


But the area is home to people, too. Tourists visit the park and local villagers live on its periphery, where tigers also roam.  

Carter says the cameras, at 80 different sites, captured intense activity inside and outside the park.  

“What we started seeing was tigers were everywhere, people were everywhere and obviously they could not have been in the exact same places at the exact same time because there will be reports of all kinds of conflicts, left and right," he says. "So what we ended up discovering was that the tigers were displacing their time and becoming more active at night instead of during the day.”

Switch to night shift
 
While tigers typically move around at any time of the day or night, the camera images show that the vast majority of the big cats were more active at night, even roaming outside the park on the same dirt roads and narrow footpaths used by humans. Carter was surprised to find the tigers shifted their activities in time, but not space, despite such intense human presence. 

  • Chitwan National Park, at the foot of the Himalayas in Nepal, is famous for its tigers. Credit: Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University
  • Michigan State University PhD student Neil Carter readies equipment for field work to study human tiger interaction. Credit: Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University
  • Crossing into Chitwan National Park, the first National Park of Nepal and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Credit: Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University
  • Researchers check out trails for locations to install motion-detecting camera traps. Credit: Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University
  • Neil Carter straps cameras on trees along footpaths and narrow roads inside and outside the park . Credit: Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University
  • Each camera trap uses two cameras to capture both sides of a tiger, as each cat's stripes are unique and are used to identify them. Credit: Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University
  • While tigers roam at all times of day, most tigers in study area had switched to hunting, mating and monitoring their territory at night. Credit: Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University
  • Typically shy, tigers stay away from humans by choice. Credit: Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University
  • A tiger’s eyes glow during the night on the same foot paths and roads that humans use during the day to collect wood and grasses. Credit: Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University.
  • A pair of tigers rest safely at night on a trail that is patrolled during the day to guard against poaching . Credit: Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Michigan State University.


“There was no relationship between the number of vehicles or people or even different types of people. Tigers were there. They were everywhere. They were widespread and ubiquitous and also the prey, their prey, was really abundant," he says. "And so that I think is really sort of the critical link. Tigers are not going to leave an area that has their food.”

New hope for endangered wildlife

Carter says the results of the study could change conservation management, especially since about 80 percent of tiger habitat is now dominated by humans.  He says the key will be to figure out what conditions foster the co-existance the study documents.

“We want to see if we can duplicate that in all these multiple use forests and areas where tigers occur, but people also depend on those forests.”

Carter says the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows promise that humans and wildlife can thrive in the same environment, but that more work must be done to understand the complicated connection between the two worlds.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Atsuko
September 11, 2012 2:55 AM
I think that human life is more important than wildlife.


by: Thy from: Vietnam
September 10, 2012 4:38 PM
Humans and tigers are living in the same planet, aren't they?


by: Rob Robertson from: Canada
September 09, 2012 11:19 AM
After reading this story I come to the conclusion that both humans and tigers need the forest to exist. My solution would be to plant more trees.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid