TIGER POPULATION GROWTH:Joint Efforts Pay

Trans-boundary cooperation between Nepal and India can make a lot of difference. This is what the conservation efforts that increased the number of tigers has shown

Aug. 9, 2013, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol: 07 No. -5 Aug. 9- 2013 (Shrawan 25, 2070)

If tigers of Nepal and India can find free space to roam within each other's areas along with trans-boundary cooperation between the two countries, there is an immense possibility to increase the population of the tigers in the country.

This is what one can see in the recently concluded tiger census. According to the census, the number of tigers reached to 198, which is more than 77. Although Nepal has been passing through a series of political instability in the last five years, the situation did not make any difference in the growth of tigers. In 2009 when the last census was made, there were 121 tigers in Nepal.  In four years, the number of  Nepal’s latest tiger census figures released Monday on occasion of World Tiger Day puts the total number of big cats in the Himalayan nation at 198—-a 63% increase from the previous count in 2009.

The last nationwide tiger count four years ago had found 121 big cats. The latest figure is however not exact. Data from the census shows the number of tigers in Nepal could be anywhere between 163 and 235.

Due to poaching and loss of habitat, Nepal's tiger population continued to decline in the past few years.  According to census, there were 120 tigers in Chitwan National Park, 7 in Parsa Wildlife Reserve, 50 in Bardia National Park, 17 in Shuklafant wildlife reserved and Banke National Park has 4.

Supported by WWF, National Trust for Nature Conservation and USAID, the total cost spent for census was 35 million rupees.

"This is good news as we have been making efforts to double the tiger population by 2022," said Ganesh Raj Joshi, secretary to Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation. “This increase has also showed the importance of cross border cooperation."

To make it more authentic, 500 cameras were used during the census. It helped to reduce the repetition in the tiger count.  According to Ghanshyam Gurung, chief of conservationist in WWF, these cameras took 7691 pictures of tigers.

“The present result is caused by the free movement of the animals in and around their habitats,” Shiv Raj Bhatta, deputy director of the Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) Program-WWF and former chief warden of Bardiya National Park (BNP), said.

Bardia National Park in west Nepal that joins the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in India through the Khata biological corridor has been one of the successful initiatives undertaken by the authorities in conserving wildlife, including the endangered tiger s and their prey species in the park.

The establishment of the Khata corridor, the only fully functional trans-boundary and ecological corridor in the Tarai—a path developed along the protected areas to allow free movement of wildlife along Nepal and India—has been instrumental in wildlife conservation in the protected areas in both the countries, Bhatta added.

The growth of tiger population took place in the five protected areas in the Tarai which are connected to protected areas in India through a network of biological corridors. Chitwan National Park and Parsa have boundaries with Valmiki Tiger Reserve in India.  Similarly, there is connection between Banke National Park with the Sohelwa Wildlife Sanctuary and Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve with the Pilibhit Tiger Reserve.

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