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   Location:Home > Research > Research Progress
Human-tiger interactions in Chinese history
Author: Zhihong Cao
Update time: 2024-07-10
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As the largest terrestrial carnivores and apex predators in the food chain, tigers (Panthera tigris) play a crucial role in maintaining biodiversity within their ecosystems, and they interact with humans in complex ways. Throughout history, human–tiger conflicts (HTCs) have been a prevalent issue across the species' range. 

In a study published in Integrative Conservation, researchers examined the history of human–tiger interactions in China from a long-term perspective. Using historiography approaches, they analyzed human–tiger conflicts and the measures taken to ensure human–tiger coexistence throughout history up to the present day.  

Throughout different historical periods in China, both negative (HTC) and positive (coexistence) human–tiger interactions have existed. The negative interactions can be divided into direct and indirect, and there have been distinct phases of these negative interactions throughout China's complex and rich history.  

In ancient times, direct conflicts were mainly sporadic encounters between humans and tigers, which were relatively mild. During the Middle and Late Middle Ages, human habitats began to overlap with those of tigers, leading to an intensification of direct conflicts and state-sponsored tiger hunting activities, particularly during the Ming and Qing dynasties. In modern times, habitat fragmentation due to urbanization and modernization has become the main cause of tiger population declines in China. At the same time, the use of tiger products in traditional Chinese medicine and trade has perpetuated tiger hunting throughout history. 

The researchers identified different concepts and measures of coexistence between humans and tigers in conflicts, including animal protection and tiger worship in Chinese history, as well as modern conservation efforts, such as listing tigers on protected lists, prohibiting tiger medicine and trade, and establishing nature reserves and national parks to protect tiger habitats. 

"Despite long-term conflicts, harmonious coexistence between humans and nature can be achieved through appropriate management and conservation measures, said an author the study. 

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Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Menglun, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China
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