The Long‐Term Effects of Tiger Poaching on Population Viability

JOHN S. KENNEY, James L Smith, ANTHONY M. STARFIELD, CHARLES W. MCDOUGAL

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations

Abstract

Abstract: Poaching tigers, primarily for their bones, has become the latest threat to the persistence of wild tiger populations throughout the world. Anecdotal information indicates the seriousness of this new threat. It is important, however, to provide a quantitative analysis of poaching as a basis for strong policy action. We therefore created a tiger simulation model to explore the effects of realistic levels of poaching on population viability. The model is an individually based, stochastic spatial model that is based on the extensive data set from Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal. We found that as poaching continues over time, the probability of population extinction increases sigmoidally; a critical zone exists in which a small, incremental increase in poaching greatly increases the probability of extinction. The implication is that poaching may not at first be seen as a threat but could suddenly become one. Moreover, even if poaching is effectively stopped, tiger populations will still be vulnerable and could go extinct due to demographic and environmental stochasticity. Our model also shows that poaching reduces genetic variability, which could further reduce population viability due to inbreeding depression. The longer poaching is allowed to continue, the more vulnerable a population will be to these stochastic events. At currently reported rates of poaching our analysis indicates that many wild tiger populations will be extirpated during the latter half of the 1990s. Los efectos a largo plazo de la caza furtiva de tigres sobre la viabilidad poblacional

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1127-1133
Number of pages7
JournalConservation Biology
Volume9
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1995

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