Chitwan tiger population up

CHITWAN/KATHMANDU: After a long delay, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation in coordination with the WWF and the National Trust for Nature Conservation released an estimated population of the endangered tigers and snow leopards of Nepal.

It said that there were a total of 121 adult tigers spread over the four protected areas, with the highest number in the Chitwan National Park with 91 tigers. Bardiya National Park, Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve and Parsa Wildlife Reserve were estimated to have 18, eight and four tigers respectively. Similarly, the estimated population of snow leopards is 300-400 in the Himalayan region.

Organising a press conference in Chitwan’s Sauraha on

Saturday, the department made public the statistics with the surging number of the tigers.

According to camera trappings in the tiger census in 2000, it had been conjectured that there were around 60 adult tigers in Chitwan National Park.

The tiger census was conducted for four months — from December 2008 to March 2009. Camera trappings and

scouting footprints were the two major techniques to survey the number of tigers.

According to a separate press statement distributed to journalists earlier, a total budget of Rs 25 million had been spent for the tiger census in 2009. There were 300 cameras placed in various parts of the conservation and park areas. Manpower of 9,480 workers, including 40 employees, 45 volunteers, 85 technicians from Nepal government, National Park, Wildlife Conservation Department, National Nature Conservation Fund and WWF were mobilised for the purpose.

Although the first ever nation-wide estimation of the tiger population brought a positive ray of hope among conservationists, the result, they said, was far too speculative and created confusion about the actual population. The present estimation of the number of tigers through the recent census is also not conclusive as they are all based on speculation. Moreover, the census shows that number of tigers are increasing in Bardiya and Shuklaphanta.

Meanwhile, the government has launched ‘Tiger Conservation Action Plan 2008- 2012’. A comprehensive management plan has been devised aiming to increase the population of tigers by 10 per cent within the first five years of its implementation.

The main reason for the decline of tiger population has been attributed to poaching and illegal trade. Rapid deforestation destroying the habitat of the tigers and the lack of hunting grounds for the tigers are also a major factors in the decrease in the number of tigers. Apart from these, sporadic cases of retaliatory killings in nearby settlements also are reducing the numbers.