A tigress strolls through Tadoba National Park. Photo Credit: Harshawardhan Dhanwatey, Tiger Research and Conservation Trust
For 25 years, Fred Bagley has served as project officer for the Asia portions of the Service’s Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund and the Great Ape Conservation Fund. In that position, he says, he helped "highly motivated local and international conservationists fulfill their conservation goals." After more than 40 years with the U.S. government (and 37 with the Service), Fred retired; Tuesday was his last day. The best part of his job, he says, was visiting the field projects and seeing on-the-ground conservation taking shape. And before he left, he shared this report from an October field visit he and colleague Cory Brown made to the vicinity of Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve in the central India state of Maharashtra. The two were doing a field assessment of a project that is working to mitigate human-big cat conflicts.
The gaur is a species of wild cattle and one of the tiger's principle prey species. Photo Credit: Harshawardhan Dhanwatey, Tiger Research and Conservation Trust
The more than 40 tigers of this reserve are doing well. They are protected and attract a steady stream of Indian and international nature tourists eager to glimpse a tiger or other wildlife such as wild cattle (gaur), spotted deer (chital), green pigeons, owlets, fishing owls, treepies, blue bull (nilgai), bee-eaters, night jars, mugger crocodiles, wild boar and black ibis.
But people living in the 1,100 square kilometer buffer zone outside the reserve are experiencing an increase in conflict with big cats (tigers and leopards). More than 90 people have died in big cat attacks on livestock and people since 2007.
This increase in conflict is probably tied to habitat degradation, insufficient wild prey in the buffer zone, an increasing human population and possibly rising numbers of dispersing big cats.