Tiger conservation often requires local-level support to avoid facing serious political challenges. In order to address the political challenges, the social capital of communities can be utilized to create community action and to help understand local dynamics. We studied the social capital in two villages bordering Corbett Tiger Reserve, India. Our results indicate that social capital of local communities is a significant determinant of potential for community action to support or oppose tiger conservation outcomes. Our results also indicate that specific components of social capital (solidarity, reciprocity and cooperation, networks, and mutual support) were critical in this potential community action. Further, the data suggest that the decline of social capital was led by the financial disparities created by unplanned growth of tourism outside the reserve boundaries. We suggest that policy and management interventions should consider social capital of local communities and ways in which it may support tiger conservation in India.