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

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora