Tiger numbers rise in Nepal after 12-year conservation program
The number of wild tigers in Nepal has more than doubled to 355 in the past 12 years following an intensive conservation programme, the country’s government has announced.
Nepal was one of many countries that set a goal at a summit in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2010 to double their numbers of wild tigers.
The Himalayan nation is the first country to reveal its numbers, with the news coinciding with the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese calendar.
The findings were announced following an extensive survey covering 18,928 square miles – 12% of Nepal’s land.
The National Tiger and Prey Survey 2022 was carried out with the support of the Nepalese branch of the international charity WWF.
The number of tigers in Nepal has more than doubled in the past 12 years (WWF-Nepal/PA)
The survey took conservationists 16,811 days of field time, and the adult tigers were identified by their unique striping pattern, WWF said.
In 2009, Nepal had only 121 adult tigers, but following the St. Petersburg summit launched a program to protect key habitats and the land corridors between them.
It included the Khata Forest Conservation Area, which connects Nepal to tiger territory in India.
It has carried out population assessments every four years, with the latest count showing the number to have reached 355 – a figure that excludes juveniles and calves.
In addition to cracking down on the illegal wildlife trade, conservationists have worked with local communities, including launching a compensation program to replace livestock killed by tigers.
A road sign warning drivers of possible tiger crossings on the road through Bardia National Park in Nepal (Emmanual Rondeau/WWF-US/PA)
Other initiatives have included assistance to reduce local people’s dependence on firewood, WWF said, and to help them reap the benefits of tourism so they need less to resort to poaching and scavenging. illegal logging.
To combat poaching, which has led to the decimation of tiger numbers, a number of government and community anti-poaching groups have been established.
This strategy has also benefited rhinos, whose numbers have increased from 645 to 752 between 2015 and 2021, an increase of 16%.
Becci May, Senior Program Advisor, Asia Programmes, WWF-UK, said: “Nepal’s success in doubling the number of tigers in the wild is due to longstanding political will and support from local communities.
“The commitment of the people of Nepal to reducing poaching and protecting tigers is inspiring and can serve as a model for conservation elsewhere.”
A watchtower in Bardia National Park in Nepal used by rangers to monitor tigers (Emmanuel Rondeau/ WWF-US/PA)
She added: “Unfortunately, despite success stories like Nepal, tigers are still the most endangered big cat species in the world, reduced to just 5% of their historic range.
“Yet when we protect tiger habitat, we protect so much more – tigers play a key role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem, and the vast areas of forest they require are a vital carbon reservoir.
“Stopping and reversing the loss of nature is key to allowing both people and wildlife to thrive.”
Tiger range countries are due to meet next month to begin discussions on the next 12-year conservation plan under the Global Tiger Recovery Programme.
The program is a collaboration between governments, conservation charities and civil society to secure the long-term future of the wild tiger.