The Cost of Conservation: Tiger mauls two to death

By Brendan Moyle 24/11/2010

Well, the Tiger Summit in St Petersburg has come up with a price tag of $350m to save the tiger. I wish I could be surprised that part of the solution to save the tiger is to spend even more money. I wish I could be surprised that we are starting to evaluate the success of our efforts to save tigers on the basis of meetings held and money spent.

I’m more than a little uncomfortable that we have such a single-minded focus on a single species. Most poachers for example, aren’t tiger poachers. They’re leopard poachers that sometimes take tigers. A wider, more cohesive strategy that looked at all of Asia’s big cat species could be merited. Going after leopard poachers would net in tiger poachers anyway. Targeting tiger poachers just keeps poachers in business as they persist with their hunting of leopards.

Asian Fishing Cat- Nocturnal Photo
Asian Fishing Cat- Nocturnal Photo

Finally, while we are thinking about $350m and who is going to come up with the money (hat-tip to Leonardo diCaprio for putting $1m into the pot), there is another cost of conserving the tigers. Live tigers mean people are going to die from tiger attacks. This sadly illustrated by the following news.

Tiger kills two in Assam

The attack occurred at the village Habiborongabari in Morigaon district, about 60 km east of Assam’s main city of Guwahati.
First a woman was mauled to death, then a man working in a field. The attack continued with a police official and girl being injured (both reported to be battling for their lives in hospital).

The tiger was eventually shot to death by forest rangers.

Saving tigers isn’t just a matter of good reserve design and controlling commercial poaching. The fundamental problem we face is that a lot of locals who live within, and next to these forests, don’t see these 1/4 ton monsters as cute, fuzzy, conservation icons to be saved. Insisting they tolerate the deaths of family members, children and livestock to save tigers is a big ask.

0 Responses to “The Cost of Conservation: Tiger mauls two to death”

  • 🙂 the Asian fishing cat? I cheated- that’s from the Singapore Zoo on their night time encounter.

  • Western groups want to save wildlife, just not in their backyard. They want to be safe from death by predator in their cushy leather chairs with 6 figure salaries.
    Wild tigers kill over 200 humans each year, but these tiger hugger$$$$ don’t seem to care for the human casualties in the tiger territory. These same groups then want to ban captive tigers in the USA under the guise of public safety; US captive tigers kill less than one person each year, majority are owners/handlers, not innocent public trying to feed their family, like the poor locals in India who are being massacred by wild tigers.

    Fuzzy tiger images bring money to greedy Western wildlife groups, but rarely do these donations, intended for animals ,actually benefit the animals or poor humans/locals.
    With the wild tigers, hiding the horrible human carnage toll brings donations to greedy bambi hugger$$$, who exploit the fuzzy tiger image.

    With captive tigers it is the opposite: scaring the white soccer moms of captive tigers, and promising the exotic pet bans, is what brings donations to the greedy ‘conservation’ groups. Promising safety from death by tiger is how these groups get the sympathy/donations in the Western world, while humans in 3rd world countries seem to be dispensable casualties of tiger conservation.

    So it is really not about tigers, it is really about making big wildlife groups richer and richer, regardless of whether the tiger saved or not. Nowhere seem to be the failure more rewarded that in so called tiger con$ervation.

  • This sounds like a latter-day version of Swift’s “Modest Proposal …” I find it hard to believe you’re serious. We should cease trying to save the wild tiger because a few of them kill people? That’s a kick in the guts for the international convention on biological diversity. I suppose you’d advocate taking the tiger off the CITES list too, so people could make a few more bucks by hunting down the last tiger and then continue breeding uncontrolled so they can continue driving other species to extinction as well? Swift would have liked that argument too, I am sure.
    Extinction is never good ecological sense. And the tiger was there long before those people, who should live (or die) with the consequences of failing to exercise a bit of self-population-control. As for your defense of tiger poachers on the basis that they’re usually after something else, i.e. they only kill tigers opportunistically — just how does that makes it alright?
    A large part of the reason why tigers kill people is because human overpopulation is impinging on their natural environment, where they’d rather prefer to live quietly and unmolested but humans won’t let them. Arjan Singh explained this vividly more than 25 years ago in his book ‘Tiger, Tiger’, which you ought to read, Brendan. I’d be happy to lend you my copy of this excellent book if you have any difficulty obtaining one. Email your address to me at and I will post it to you. Cheers.

    You’re right, “Zuzana” — people like me don’t care about tiger “victims”. Two hundred deaths a year in a massively overpopulated country is a very small price to preserve a top predator species. “Massacred” is an exaggeration, and the main objection to people keeping tigers as pets is not to do with public safety – it is about treating these great animals humanely. Tigers are not toys to be played with or treated a status symbols. Do you not understand this?
    As for your broad-spectrum slagging of conservation groups, this is ignorant and ill-considered. And shame on you for opining from behind the shelter of anonymity. It’s all too easy to mouth off in this way when you know there will be no personal consequences. Show the courage of your convictions and write under your own name.

  • Dear Mike, if some of the people killed by wild tiger were your own family or friends, maybe you would feel differently.
    As for groups such WWF and soliciting money for tigers under the guise of public safety, here it is from the horse’s mouth, or shall we say from the tiger’s mouth:

    So 200 plus dead people in Asia per year is not a problem, but less than one killed in USA by tiger is supposed to be a problem, according to Bambi huggers$$$?

    Anyway, I posted a link to my website in previous post, I was not hiding, and here is another link on my website

    Zuzana Kukol, an American pet tiger owner, who speaks from personal hands on experience on the captive keeping pet tigers and other big cats

    PS: Here is a great WWF article link:

  • I’m not surprised you find it hard to believe Mike because I have not advocated ceasing to save the tiger. I am astonished at your misplaced vitriol however.

    Clearly of course, my knowledge of Asian tiger poaching, based as it is only on first-hand investigations of wildlife markets, smuggling routes & covert work since 2007, is completely inadequate to develop the superior understanding you have of the causes of tiger poaching based on a 25 year old book.

    I am not defending tiger poachers. The fact is that leopard poaching is at least an order of magnitude greater than tiger poaching. Going after leopard poachers is a pre-emptive way to get to tiger poachers. And as leopards & other cat species sustain the profitability of smuggling networks, it’s a prudent way to undermine these networks. If wildlife smuggling routes aren’t profitable, you hinder poaching. This is fundamentally why a focus on tigers that does not consider other large cats, is a very risky conservation strategy.

    Yes, in an ideal world, big reserves free of human-tiger conflict & packed with prey would be nice. But there’s very few places left in Asia where that actually occurs. In most places, tiger reserves include indigenous hunting communities, illegal occupants and are abutted by other human settlements. They get to bear most of the risks of tiger conservation and enjoy few of the benefits. The reality is that pissed-off local hunters do most of the poaching. And strategies to piss them off more- as opposed to creating local benefits- doesn’t save tigers.

  • Rural elements of which have the rights to land people are nature; humankind will all ways be advancing into the wilderness; I’m truly sadden that there isn’t enough safe interspace for animals on the brink of extinction, it will be a sad day when the news comes that there are no wild animals. Extinction Road means that’s the end of a life form and it’s true nature in real-life its gone from the planet for all time to come afterwards; humankind is the guardian to earths natural wonders, there shouldn’t be bindings in relations to corruption. Interactions of Pure Greed is the Damnation for Extinctions no persons should have the right to eradicate wildlife that is entitled to live in their natural homelands.
    “There is great danger when clearing away the forest for farming and lumber in doing so it takes away hunting grounds; I’m truly sorry for the people being lost each year, human life is more important.”
    Tigers need vast forest reserves and people need to know its tiger land and those cats are protected by the laws of its country and those harming the animals will go to prison for a long time.
    That is a way of having room for all; it is hard for people to have livestock and go about their daly work with hungry tigers on the hunt, a will planed reserve would make sure it tigers would have enough wild game so the tigers will not be harming people and livestock. Nothing is perfect and there will be dangerous encounters of roaming tigers; there may come a time when tigers know were safety is and not venture off the reservers. Animals are smart and adapt to a good environment; humankind can make this work. Thank You, PHG