February 2, 2023, Thursday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Nepal’s success story in tiger conservation

The Nepal Weekly
August 2, 2022

Nepal has nearly tripled the number of wild tigers to 355 individuals according to the latest tiger survey report. The results of the National Tiger and Prey Survey was released on the International Tiger Day 2022, July 29 by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba amidst a function in Kathmandu.

The historic over 190 percent increase in tiger population since 2009 was the result of the protection of key tiger habitats and corridors, partnership with local communities and cracking down on poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

Tiger range countries are meeting next month to initiate discussions on the next 12-year commitments for tiger conservation under the Global Tiger Recovery Programme.

The survey highlights the importance of maintaining and rigorously protecting core habitats, partnering with communities to integrate conservation and development needs, and expanding conservation interventions to include corridors and habitats beyond existing protected areas.

Prime Minister Deuba was the chief guest at the Global Tiger Day national celebrations held in Kathmnandu on Friday, which was attended by former Prime Minister of Nepal Madahav Kumar Nepal and foreign diplomats from more than eight countries among dignitaries. Minister for Forests and Environment Pradeep Yadav chaired the gathering. It gives us a sense of pride, said Yadav congratulating his ministry’s team and all conservation partners for over delivering on its promise.

The results of the tiger survey report in Nepal brought out as astounding news for the global conservation community as a whole. “Over the past several months Nepal’s wildlife scientists, researchers and technicians have been working hard on readying the findings that is a reflection of the impressive state of nature in Nepal,” shares NTNC’s wildlife biologist and programme manager Dr.Naresh Subedi, who is also a member of the technical committee for the survey report. 

An extensive effort covering 18,928 sq. km – over 12 percent of the country – and 16,811 days of field staff time was invested to complete the survey. The results bring both great hope and reassurance about tigers’ long-term future in Nepal.

In the census of 2018, Chitwan National Park was home to 93 tigers and Bardia National Park had 87 tigers. Banke National Park and Shuklaphanta National Park had 21 and 16 tigers, respectively. There were 18 tigers in Parsa National Park.

The target to double wild tigers, also known as Tx2, was set by governments in 2010 at the St. Petersburg International Summit on Tiger Conservation. With this announcement Nepal is the first country to release updated tiger numbers during the Year of the Tiger. Tiger range countries are meeting next month to begin discussions on the next 12-year commitments for tiger conservation under the Global Tiger Recovery Programme.

WWF-Nepal was an implementing partner in the survey which was led by the Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation with support also from other conservation organizations (National Trust for Nature Conservation and ZSL Nepal). WWF-Nepal was involved from survey design to data analysis via both technical and financial support to the Government.

While the future of Nepal’s tigers across vast landscapes has always been a challenge in the face of various threats, the latest estimate indicates the relevance of the conservation measures that have been implemented by the Government, WWF and other organizations working in the sector.

 “This conservation win is a result of political will and concerted efforts of local communities, youth, enforcement agencies, and conservation partners under the leadership of Government of Nepal,” remarked Ghanashyam Gurung, Country Director, WWF- Nepal.

Stuart Chapman, Tigers Alive Initiative Leader, WWF appreciates Nepal’s efforts saying “The doubling of Nepal’s tiger population is an extraordinary achievement and is the result of sustained conservation effort over many years. Nepal has demonstrated the highest conservation standards in reaching this historic milestone. There is clearly much to learn from Nepal’s tiger population recovery over the last 12 years.”

Ginette Hemley, Senior Vice President for Wildlife Conservation, WWF-US states, “Nepal’s new tiger population estimate shows that it is possible to a save species from the brink of extinction and gives us a real reason to celebrate this Global Tiger Day. We have been eagerly anticipating this new information because Nepal’s previous survey in 2018 was just shy of doubling the population baseline set in 2009. It is remarkable to see what twelve years of high-level political commitment, dedicated conservation action, partnership with local communities, and collaboration between the government and conservation organizations can accomplish.”

“We hope the US will be inspired by Nepal’s success and finally do its part to curb the illegal tiger trade by passing the Big Cat Public Safety Act. This legislation will support tiger conservation by tracking who owns captive tigers across the US, when tigers are sold and traded, and what happens to their valuable parts when they die. This information will help ensure parts from captive tigers in the US are not filtering into the illegal trade and perpetuating demand overseas, which is the most immediate threat to tigers’ survival.”

Similarly, Leonardo DiCaprio, a well-known American actor and film producer who has been supporting tiger conservation congratulates Nepal on its success in achieving the global commitment, made in the 2010 Year of the Tiger, to double the country’s wild tiger population by 2022. He noted this as an impressive milestone. Although tiger conservation has been a must to appreciate effort in Nepal, loss and damage caused by human – animal conflicts cause social problems. A number of wildlife including of tigers in the locations specially roads in the tiger habitat national parks or nearby killed a number of tigers by vehicles, and also tigers killed human and other animals. The conflict situations need to be reduced by intervening appropriate methods and measures. The incidents say that safety measures and protections are not much effective. As such, policies, guidelines and compensation methods need to be effective and practicable as well.