Tigers shift schedules to avoid people

Tigers in Nepal have taken to “working” the night shift to avoid people using the same trails and roads in daytime, U.S. researchers say.

The feared and revered carnivores in and around world-renowned Chitwan National Park have shifted their movement habits, scientists at Michigan State University reported Monday.

The findings fly in the face of long-held convictions in conservation circles that tigers need areas free of people, which has often led to people being relocated or their access to resources compromised to make way for tigers.

Researcher Neil Carter set motion-detecting camera traps for tigers, their prey and people who walk the roads and trails of Chitwan, both in and around the park, and found that people and tigers are walking the same paths, albeit at different times.

People in Nepal generally avoid the forests at night, he said, which is exactly when Chitwan's tigers take up their strolls.

And it appears tiger population numbers are holding steady despite an increase in human population size.

“Tigers need to use the same space as people if they are to have a viable long-term future,” Carter said. “What we're learning in Chitwan is that tigers seem to be adapting to make it work.”

Copyright 2012 by United Press International