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Johnsingh, A.J.T.; Madhusudan, M.D.
Tiger Reintroduction in India: Conservation Tool or Costly Dream?
2009  Book Chapter

The tiger (_Panthera tigris_), like many other large carnivores, has experienced serious declines in its global distribution and abundance. Reintroduction is one of a suite of important conservation tools developed to reverse such declines in a range of species across the globe. Most experience with large carnivore reintroductions comes from North America, Europe and South Africa, where carnivore declines have ensued from their direct persecution by humans. Once the factors responsible for the original extirpation of a large carnivore have been removed, reintroduction has proved a viable conservation option given the backdrop of low human densities, extensive land availability and the commitment of adequate fi nancial and socio-political support for the reintroduction project. In this chapter, we examine the role of reintroduction in the conservation of the tiger in India, where the species has been extirpated from many parts of its former range-not only through direct persecution, but also due to prey depletion and habitat loss. Given the complex socio-cultural, economic and political factors that drive habitat loss and prey depletion for the tiger, we review the feasibility of reintroduction as a conservation intervention. In the Indian setting, which is characterized by the persistence even aggravation-of conservation threats to tigers, we argue that the prudent course of conservation action is to fi rst invest in effective means of reducing threats to tigers and their habitats before exploring the option of tiger reintroduction.

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