by Lorraine Shelton
A recent article on tiger behavior, published in the journal Nature Communications, reads like an episode of Criminal Minds! The research suggests that a geographic profiling tool used to catch serial criminals could theoretically be used to help reduce the number of tiger encounter incidents by identifying high risk areas for attacks and intervening before they occur.
Dr. Matthew Struebig at the University of Kent and Dr. Freya St. John at Bangor University determined that the frequency of tiger attacks on livestock and people can be predicted from a complex analysis of over a decade of data on tiger encounters combined with interviews of local Sumatran people on their attitudes toward tigers, including their spiritual beliefs about them.
Tigers can pose a threat to people and lifestock, but since tigers are on the brink of extinction due to deforestation and persecution finding a way that they can coexist with people is important. If resources for intervention can be targeted to high risk areas, it can reduce the risk of these incidents, and therefore minimize the number of retaliatory actions on tigers by affected communities.
They concluded that pre-emptive interventions using this predictive model could have prevented up to 51 percent of attacks on livestock and people, potentially saving 15 tigers.