Worshipping the Tiger: Modeling Non-use Existence Values of Wildlife Spiritual Services

Adrian A. Lopes, Shady S. Atallah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Several indigenous tribes around the world derive spiritual value from revering fauna and flora species. Species conservation is not a prime objective of such traditions but can be an unintended consequence. Conventional species conservation practices ignore this spiritual value and tribes are often evicted from protected areas. We use the existence value framework to develop a coupled ecological-economic model of the use and non-use, existence values of wildlife for a tribe that derives spiritual value from a wildlife population. We calibrate the model for the Biligiri Rangaswamy Temple (BRT) Tiger Reserve in India with the resident Soligas tribe who consider tigers as sacred and back out an existence value of tigers in this reserve from a tribe manager’s perspective. The model ascertains tiger population dynamics under several management scenarios. Steady-state convergence is observed under secure property rights for the Soligas. Scenarios in which they are evicted from the BRT reserve and lose their property rights yields localized tiger extinction. Finally, we generate a marginal existence value function and discuss the potential for using existence value estimates in guiding conservation policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-90
Number of pages22
JournalEnvironmental and Resource Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Bioeconomic model
  • C61
  • Conservation
  • Existence value
  • Public goods
  • Q20
  • Q51
  • Q57
  • Tiger

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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