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Re-introduction of top predators

Reintroduction of species is an important conservation tool, with most examples seen in North America, Europe and South Africa (Johnsingh & Madhusudan, 2009). But in order to succeed, a reintroduction can only take place after removing the factors that originally made the species go locally extinct (Johnsingh & Madhusudan, 2009; Joseph et al, 2002). To reintroduce carnivores is a challenge and should not be underestimated (Driscoll et al, 2012; Kleiman 1989). Managing of top predators using this technique typically requires a low human density, a suitable habitat and a socio-political support (IUCN/SSC, 2013; Johnsingh & Madhusudan, 2009; Joseph et al, 2002; Kleiman, 1989). In general, reintroduction programs with mammals have historically had rate of success of 73 % (Wolf et al, 1996).  Reintroduction of large carnivores are gaining in popularity, out of conservation, aesthetic, functional and cultural reasons (Johnsingh & Madhusudan, 2009, Kleiman, 1989). Some successful examples of re-introduction have been seen with Amarican bison (Bison bison) wolves (Canis spp), bears (Ursus arctos) and african wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) (Kleiman, 1989; Driscoll et al, 2012).

Examples of successful tiger reintroduction have been seen in Panna Tiger Reserve, India, where tigers went locally extinct in 2008. The introduction of 4 females and 3 males in 2008 led to a population of 32 individuals in 2014 (Launay et al, 2012; WWF, 2016). In order to contribute to the tiger conservation and the global goal to double the population of wild tigers (Global tiger recovery program 2010), a reintroduction program is thought to be the only option for the tiger recover in Cambodia (Lynam, 2010, O’Kelly, 2013). According to WWF-Cambodia, a first release of tigers in EPL can occur in 2019, with six females and two males (WWF, 2006). The EPL is estimated to support a minimum of 180 tigers by 2050 (Launay et al, 2012).

To re-introduce and protect tigers, a good management plan must take place. This includes both strictly protection of areas and general education of the public about the tigers (IUCN, 2013). Today the number of rangers is pointed out as a limiting factor for the law enforcement, with 1 ranger per 200 km2 today considered being too low (WWF, 2016). A strict law enforcement (Administration Forestry, 2011) as well as good education and communication must take place. Participation and provisions of benefits are have been pointed out as core mechanism in order to reduce conflicts (Spiteri & Nepal, 2006). 

Ecosystem services

Ecosystem services are defined by the MEA (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005) as “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems". MEA (2005) also grouped the ecosystem services in the following categories: supporting, provisioning, regulating and cultural, which have been widely accepted. Within the cultural ES, there are mostly nonmaterial benefits obtained from ecosystems through spiritual enrichment, recreation, cognitive development, reflection, and aesthetic experiences (Groot, et al, 2002). But the tiger can be considered to be a recreational ecosystem service, which can be measured by tiger tourism (Verma et al, 2015). The different values extracted from tigers as an ecosystems service can be divided into different groups (Table 1), and measured with different methods (Figure 3). 

In India, tiger tourism is widespread with its 47 tiger reserves which is increasing in popularity, and thereby contributes to the local economy and conservation (Sinha et al, 2012; Verma et al, 2015). In Kanha national park and tiger reserve, tourism has increased and the visitors has risen dramatically. Between 1998 and 2009, the number of visitors increased with a 72 %, generating $197 973 annually for the reserve (Sinha et al, 2012). Associated with Ranthambhore tiger reserve in India, there is 3 863 people directly associated with the tourism industry, with more than 130 guides working in the park (Singh et al, 2011).

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Responsible for this page: Agneta Johansson
Last updated: 04/27/17