Book Chapter
2009
Tiger reintroduction in India: conservation tool or costly dream? 
Pages 146-163 in M. Somers and M. Hayward (eds.) Reintroduction of Top-order Predators. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK.
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The tiger (Panthera tigris), like many other large carnivores, has experienced serious declines in its global distribution and abundance. Reintroduction is one of a suite of important conservation tools developed to reverse such declines in a range of species across the globe. Most experience with large- carnivore reintroductions comes from North America, Europe and South Africa, where carnivore declines have ensued from their direct persecution by humans. Once the factors responsible for the original extirpation of a large carnivore have been removed, reintroduction has proved a viable conserva- tion option given the backdrop of low human densities, extensive land avail- ability and the commitment of adequate financial and socio-political support for the reintroduction project. In this chapter, we examine the role of reintro- duction in the conservation of the tiger in India, where the species has been extirpated from many parts of its former range—not only through direct persecution, but also due to prey depletion and habitat loss. Given the complex socio-cultural, economic and political factors that drive habitat loss and prey depletion for the tiger, we review the feasibility of reintroduction as a conser- vation intervention. In the Indian setting, which is characterized by the per- sistence—even aggravation—of conservation threats to tigers, we argue that the prudent course of conservation action is to first invest in effective means of reducing threats to tigers and their habitats before exploring the option of tiger reintroduction.

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