India with their conservation efforts towards saving the Bengal tiger put our conservations services to shame. The Indian conservation service recognizes that human population was one of the main reasons for endangered tiger populations. Human actions lead to deforestation for agriculture, housing or developmental projects leading to a mass exodus and killing of wildlife.
The wholesale slaughter of four cougars in Penticton is unacceptable and a natural outcome from years of inaction by Penticton council scared to deal with this issue due to the massive public outcry over the culling of deer in our community. What did we expect to happen?
We Pentictonites must bear the responsibility for the slaughter of these cougars which appeared healthy and had the right to a long lifespan. If we want to allow the deer to have free reign in our community then we need to understand that we are building a corridor into our community for predators that use deer as their primary source of food. And should expect conservation officers to have sufficient training and programs to safeguard the lives of these animals as well as our own.
India has incorporated many programs to increase the numbers of endangered tigers including natural wildlife corridors and reserves combined with constant interaction between conservation officers and people in communities to enable citizenry and tigers to coexist. People are finding ways to live alongside tigers.
Most recently, a study published in May 2016 surveyed people living near the Bor Wildlife Sanctuary in Maharashtra. The researchers found that local people were very tolerant towards tigers.
Their diet may be a factor. The majority of the people are vegetarian, so they do not hunt wild animals for food. This means there are plenty of prey animals for the tigers to hunt.
What’s more, because the villagers mostly grow crops, they reported that they actually liked having tigers around because they keep crop-raiding animals in check. Dairy farmers also thought tigers were beneficial, as they dissuade milk thieves from infiltrating the area.
Our conservation service would do well to explore the methods used in India to enable the people and the tigers to coexist. We cannot continue the wholesale slaughtering of cougars and bears. We must learn to live together and our conservations services are failing in this regard.
Elvena Slump, Penticton