I develop a bio-economic model to analyse how human-tiger conflicts (HTCs) impact on forest dependent community members’ decisions to invest in human capital via education. I further explore the linkages between human capital outcomes and future sustainability of the forests as well as of the tiger populations. Results suggest that the risk of human mortality arising from HTCs could play a crucial role in determining human capital investment decisions. Specifically, lower HTC risk delays efforts to increase human capital via education. Furthermore, when the chances of finding employment are not very high, or when expected income in the skilled sector is not very high, communities delay human capital accumulation and prolong reliance on forest-based livelihoods, thereby increasing HTC risks. Low-growth forests can also promote early human capital investments. Finally, the manner in which HTC risks are affected by community actions can also influence their livelihood-based decisions. © 2016, Springer Science+Business Media New York.