KATHMANDU: The endangered big cats' population estimation will kick off in Chitwan National Park next week. A nationwide count in 2009 found about 121 tigers in the country.
"We are going to estimate the population more intensively this year," said Shiva Raj Bhatta, spokesperson, Department of National Park and Wildlife Conservation.
The number of cameras to capture images will be doubled this time, said Jhamak Karki, a researcher. The estimate that was done in 2009 excluded the Churiya hills and the cameras were fitted only in the lowlands.
However, this time, cameras would be fitted in various sites in the Churiya range too,
he said. The sites have
been identified and it would provide an accurate date soon, he added.
Lowlands are the main tiger habitat, but according to Karki, there has been a clear indication that the tigers move up the hills of Churiya range that falls in the national park territory. Karki said that capture-recapture method would be used for the count. The cameras would automatically trap the images of the tiger that passes by, he added.
The tigers will be identified on the basis of their unique stripes on the body flanks,
legs, face and tail. The cubs, however, are excluded in the counting.
Chitwan National Park alone boasts of some 80 percent of the total tigers in the country. However, study shows that the tiger population is dwindling and conservation concerns were greater recently.
A ministerial-level meeting of tiger range countries will be organised in the last week of January in Bangkok. Countries will discuss various issues of tiger conservation and prepare a draft for another discussion at a meeting of the head of the states of the13 tiger range countries, in Russia in December.
There are 13 tiger range countries in the world where the wild tigers inhabit. According to studies, there were 35,000 wild tigers in the 1960s but no more than 3,500 tigers are left today.

Feline population in 2008-09

Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve 8
Bardia National Park 18
Chitwan National Park 91
Parsa Wildlife Reserve 4