Tiger reserves in India not only support more than half of the global tiger population and are cornerstones of biodiversity conservation, they also provide a wide range of economic, social and cultural benefits in the form of ecosystem services. Ignorance of such values influences public policies, including decisions involving investments and allocation of funding, that may impact their protection status with serious implications on human well-being. Through economic valuation of ecosystem services from 6 tiger reserves in India, we demonstrate that enhanced investment in these tiger reserves is economically rational. The flow benefits from selected tiger reserves range from US$769 ha−1 year−1 to US$2923 ha−1 year−1. The usefulness of such information for developing incentive-based mechanisms and informing zoning and management of tiger reserves at the landscape level is also discussed.