Human-tiger conflict: Community engagement
Human-tiger conflict should be approached holistically, with an overarching plan that combines prevention, intervention and mitigation strategies. To ensure that community needs are met, such plans need to be transparent and designed and implemented in consultation with local communities, Simply imposing plans, without consultation, is likely to result in resentment and disengagement.
For communities to support HTC plans, they must receive clear benefits. Any restrictions imposed should be clearly reasoned and explained, and then consistently enforced. Any loss of income or increase in costs should be off-set by increased production or alternative income streams. Community led schemes should be promoted and external schemes should seek to include, and employ, community members. Reporting conflict should be made easy and responses made rapidly and consistently. Following investigation, any necessary action or intervention should be effectively communicated and any compensation due paid in a timely and efficient manner.
Put simply, local communities must feel they can trust and rely on protected area authorities to manage HTC situations for them. Greater trust in authorities will ultimately lead to greater support for conservation and acceptance of tigers. Conversely, loss of trust will result in increased community anxiety, decreased tolerance of wildlife and an increased risk of vigilante action.