By Brendan Moyle 25/07/2016

The news this weekend included mention of the attacks on two women in China, in a tiger safari park.

Tigers are very efficient predators.  The Amur (Siberian) tiger for instance, can grow up to 250kg.  It is the largest of the large cat species, and a very efficient predator.  In Asia they have long killed people, in numbers that may astonish us today.  Using reliable reports across Asia, Nyhus et al.[1] report an estimated 373,000 human deaths from tigers over the period 1800-2009.  It is really no surprise how quickly and easily these animals can kill people.

A growing problem is the disconnect we have from wildlife.  Wild animals are portrayed or perceived as being like domestic animals, but in more exotic fur.  Wild animals don’t behave like domestic animals.  Tigers aren’t like large over-grown house cats.  And one of the prevalent problems we have trying to conserve wildlife- like tigers- is conflicts with local human populations.  People don’t like having their livestock killed, their property damaged, or their family injured or killed by wildlife.  People living next to, or among wildlife, don’t share the romanticised vision we might have about tigers or elephants or bears.   In turn, much conservation policy is being enacted on the basis of the romanticised values many urban, Western people have.  It’s leading to policy conflicts that are very hard to bridge.

As an aside, for that feral tiger sound, I’ve added this sound file.

“Growling tiger sounds, while mating”- from China. (Don’t play loudly around domestic pets).

[1] Nyhus, P.J. and Tilson, R. 2010. Panthera tigris vs Homo sapiens: Conflict, Coexistence, or Extinction. In. Tilson, R. and Nhyhus, P.J.(eds) Tigers of the World 2e, pp 125-141.