Bardia National Park in Nepal, and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in India, had bagged this year’s TX2 Award for doubling their population of wild tigers since 2010. A second award for Tiger Conservation Excellence will be presented to Khata Forest Conservation Area in Nepal which secures transboundary connectivity for tigers between Nepal and India.
The awards celebrate the upcoming launch of the 2022 Lunar Year of the Tiger. In September tiger range countries will convene at the second Global Tiger Summit in Vladivostok to assess progress towards the ambitious TX2 goal – to double the number of tigers in the wild – and to identify tiger conservation priorities for the next 12 years.
The tiger population award winner, Bardia National Park, succeeded in increasing the number of tigers almost five-fold from less than 20 tigers in 2009 to 90 in 2018 – an outstanding achievement given it is situated in one of the most densely populated tiger regions of the world.
Sathyamangalam, designated as theTiger Reserve in 2013, was home to only 25 tigers in 2011 but today there are an estimated 80 individuals roam in the area. Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, located in the Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot, connects with two other protected areas, supporting one of the most important and largest tiger populations in the world.
The associated award for Tiger Conservation Excellence is presented to the incredible transboundary Khata corridor where community based conservation efforts, including a network of 74 community forests covering 202 km2, have secured safe passage for tigers between Bardia National Park in Nepal and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in India. Over the last five years 46 individual tigers have been detected using the corridor together with other iconic and threatened mammal species including the Asian elephant, and the greater one-horned rhino.
The awards are presented by the Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS), Fauna and Flora International (FFI), Global Tiger Forum (GTF), IUCN’s Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP), Panthera, UNDP, The Lion’s Share, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and WWF.
Bardiya National Park is a protected area in Nepal that was established in 1988 as Royal Bardia National Park. Covering an area of 968 km2, it is the largest national park in Nepal’s Teari, adjoining the eastern bank of the Karnali River and bisected by the Babai River in the Bardiya District. Its northern limits are demarcated by the crest of the Siwalik Hills. The Nepalgunj-Surkhet highway partly forms the southern boundary, but seriously disrupts the protected area. Natural boundaries to human settlements are formed in the west by the Geruwa, a branch of the Karnali River, and in the southeast by the Babai River.
Together with the neighbouring Banke National Park, the coherent protected area of 1,437 km2 represents the Tiger Conservation Unit (TCU) Bardia-Banke that extends over 2,231 km2 of alluvial grasslands and subtropical moist deciduous forests.
Human-wildlife conflict is a significant problem that often results in retaliatory killing of predators. Such conflict is particularly pronounced between humans and tigers Panthera tigris because of fatal attacks by tigers on humans. Investigation results say that the incidence and perception of human – tiger conflict in the buffer zone of Bardia National Park annual loss of livestock attributable to tigers was 0.26 animals per household, amounting to an annual loss of 2% of livestock. Livestock predation rates were particularly high in areas with low abundance of natural prey. During 1994 – 2007 12 people were killed and a further
four injured in tiger attacks. Nevertheless, local people generally had a positive attitude towards tiger conservation and were willing to tolerate some loss of livestock but not
human casualties. This positive attitude indicates the potential for implementation of appropriate conservation measures and we propose mitigation strategies such as education, monetary compensation and monitoring of tigers.
Last year, the national park had witnessed a number of human deaths due to tiger attacks in the highway which runs through the national park. The deaths have coincided with an increase in tiger sightings in human settlements. Conservation experts say there are several complex issues at play. Experts say that not every tiger is a man-eater. But as the numbers of tigers rise, there is an increased risk of attacks that can happen when old and weak tigers roam around in search of new territory and prey – wild pigs, cattle, buffalos and sometimes people. Some other attacks happen as a result of errors when humans enter the tiger’s territory.