A female white Bengal tiger Tigrulia holding her newly-born cub at a private zoo in Yalta (Photo : Reuters)
In Nepal, research shows that Tigers have been adapting to the presence of humans by becoming nocturnal.The study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that this adaptation decreases the chance of confrontation between humans and tigers, allowing shared resources such as water to be available to both species at different times of the day.
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Co-writer of the study, Neil Carter, explains that "it's a very fundamental conflict over resources. Tigers need resources, people need the same resources. If we operate under the traditional wisdom that tigers only can survive with space dedicated solely for them, there would always be conflict. If your priority is people, tigers lose out. If your priority is tigers, people lose out."
This adaptation signals a silent agreement between humankind and tigers, a mutually beneficial compromise.
"Tigers typically move around at all times of the day and night, monitoring their territory, mating and hunting. But in the study area, the tigers had become creatures of the night. People in Nepal generally avoid the forests at night. Essentially, quitting time for people signals starting time for Chitwan's tigers," says Carter.
The study took place over the span of two seasons setting motion-detecting traps, which captured images showing "people and tigers walking the same paths, albeit at different times."
So what are the larger implications of this research? Jianguo "Jack" Liu, director of the Center for Systems Integration and Sustainability at Michigan State University offers and overview.
"As our planet becomes more crowded, we need to find creative solutions that consider both human and natural systems. Sustainability can be achieved if we have a good understanding of the complicated connections between both worlds. We've found something very interesting is happening in Nepal that holds promise for both humans and nature to thrive."
According to Planetsave, the research was funded by the National Science Foundation, NASA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Rhinoceros and Tiger Conservation Fund and MSU AgBioResearch.