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As the world has become more crowded and space has become more of a commodity, the tiger population has faced hardship and a massive shrinking in its population. Up until recently, it was thought that it was detrimental for both tigers and humans to share the same space and use the same resources, but thanks to a curious situation in Nepal, that thought process is being turned on its head.
In Nepal’s Chitwan National Park, humans and tigers must traverse the same paths through the woods and use many of the same resources. The situation is pretty unique; not only are tigers and humans sharing the same space, but a whopping 121 tigers also live in that particular area. Michigan State University’s Neil Carter has spent the last two years surveying the phenomenon and has found that over time, the tigers have become nocturnal so as to avoid the pathways during the day when people may be out hunting for wood or grasses. According to an interview Neil gave with BBC News, the change in behavior helps both groups to avoid conflict.
"Tigers need to use the same space as people if they are to have a viable long-term future. What we're learning in Chitwan is that tigers seem to be adapting to make it work."
This adaptive behavior is pretty good news for tigers, who have lost 97% of their population since the start of the 20th century. If tigers are doing what Carter seems to be implying they are doing—learning to avoid humans—than the species is learning how to survive on human terms. While it sort of sucks the animals have to think that way, at least they seem to be extremely crafty and working their way through the issue, although I’m not sure I’m ready to see the breed introduced in the forest in my backyard.