Tiger Conservation in Nepal
A joint survey carried out by Nepal and India over a 600-mile area has revealed that the number of Bengal tigers has increased to 198 since the last survey was carried out in 2009. Bengal tigers (Pantheras tigris tigris) are found in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Burma, and there are thought to be fewer than 2,500 left in the wild in all these countries collectively. The increase has been hailed as a milestone in Nepal’s commitment to double the numbers of tigers in the wild by 2022 as agreed to in the “TX2” (Tigers Times Two) plan at the International Tiger Conservation Forum held in 2010 in St Petersburg, Russia.
The study was carried out between February and June this year and included three wildlife corridors and five protected areas. In Bardia National Park, located in the Terai valley of Nepal, Bengal tigers had reportedly increased from 18 to 50 between 2009 and 2013. In the Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, there has been an increase from 8 to 17, while in the Chitwan National Park the number of tigers had increased from 91 to 120, and four tigers were seen in the relatively new Banke National Park.
Director General of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Megh Bahadur Pandey, noted in an interview that tigers are a part of Nepal’s natural wealth, and that authorities are committed to ensuring they have the prey, protection and space to thrive. To this end, communities are being included in anti-poaching efforts, while high-tech patrolling methods of protected areas are being used by officials in an attempt to control the illegal wildlife trade.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has reiterated its commitment to working with Nepal’s authorities to continue, and strengthen, conservation efforts. The WWF representative in Nepal, Anil Manandhar, noted that while the positive results of the tiger survey are to be celebrated, efforts should be redoubled to protect the gains made, as these could easily be lost to human-tiger conflict and illegal wildlife trade.