Can Big Data Save The Last Of India’s Wild Tigers?

This story originally appeared on Ensia.

Traveling in small, nomadic groups, carrying knives, axes and steel traps, tiger poachers in India have long held advantages over those trying to protect the big cats. The poachers, motivated mainly by demand for tiger bones used in traditional medicine in China, return every two to three years to places where they know “every stream and rocky outcrop” and set traps along tigers’ pathways or near watering holes, says Belinda Wright, executive director of the Wildlife Protection Society of India. They are seldom caught.

“They have unbelievable knowledge and jungle craft,” Wright says. “They will use every trick in the book.”

But a study published last August by Wright, ecologist Koustubh Sharma and colleagues could help turn the tide against tiger poaching in India, home to more than half of the tiger’s global wild population.

The study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, applied a new method to estimate the probability of occurrence and detection of tiger crime in various areas of India, then used it to identify 73 key “hot spots” with high likelihood of tiger poaching and trafficking in tiger parts. According to the authors, it could lead to more —> Read More Here


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