Kathmandu, July 4
If everything goes fine, Nepal is poised to double its tiger population by 2018, four years earlier than the targeted year 2022.
As per The Global Tiger Recovery Plan, which was endorsed in the St Petersburg Declaration on Tiger conservation in 2010, Nepal committed to double its tiger population by 2022 from 121 to more than 250.
On the basis of potential areas (TX2 area) where wild tiger’s number could be doubled very soon, the government, conservationists and related agencies have expressed possibility of doubling the tiger population earlier than 2022.
The government said that though it was too early to say whether Nepal would meet the target of doubling the tiger population by 2018, it could meet the target earlier than 2022.
“By prioritising TX2 areas we hope that by the next census in 2018, we will be able to count a total of at least 210 or more tigers,” said Maheshwor Dhakal, deputy director general at the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation,”But the lack of scientific census methods and trans-boundary coordination among othersm are still hurdles to doubling the tiger numbers at the earliest.”
According to World Wildlife Fund Nepal, a conservation partner of the Government of Nepal since 1967, Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, Banke National Park and Parsa Wildlife Reserve are the TX2 areas that have a chance to doubling the tiger count by 2018.
“If we maintain the current spirit of conservation throughout the tiger range areas, we will meet the tiger doubling target by 2018,” Kanchan Thapa, tiger biologist at WWF Nepal told The Himalayan Times.
“The conservation programmes are more focused on TX2 areas that could give double results earlier.” Among these TX2 areas, Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve increased its tigers to 17 in 2013 from eight in 2009 and Parsa Wildlife Reserve increased tigers to seven from four. Whereas being the youngest national park, Banke had a record of four tigers from its first tiger census as it was declared a national park in 2009.
Altogether 198 tigers have been recorded through census in 2013, which was 63 per cent increment in comparison to the previous census of 2009. Besides those TX2 areas, Chitwan and Bardia national parks have a large number of tigers.
There were 120 and 50 big cats respectively as per the tiger census of 2013.
While the nation has been celebrating its zero poaching of rhinos for the past few years, 2015 was the worst year for tiger conservation when Nepal police seized more than one dozen tiger skins.
But WWF Nepal has claimed that those hides were not identified as belonging to Nepal’s tigers.
Madhav Khadka, wildlife trade monitoring manager at the WWF, said poaching of tigers in Nepal had been brought under control thanks to coordination among government and non- government agencies, and security bodies.
“Strong determination in conservation and trans-boundary coordination with India has brought us a step nearer to doubling the tiger population by the next tiger census in 2018,” he said.
On the basis of GTRP, Nepal had made the National Tiger Recovery Plan. Which had set the goal of increasing e tiger population up to 250 adult tigers by 2022.
Other targeted activities were to manage the Tarai Arc Landscape as a priority conservation landscape, controlling prey and tiger poaching, institutional strengthening and capacity building, tiger-human conflict and community engagement, scientific monitoring, research and surveys and trans-boundary management.
Tigers are the largest species of cat and one of the most iconic animals on the planet. One hundred years ago, there were 100,000 wild tigers.
By the year 2010, as few as 3,200 wild tigers remained. It was a shocking 97 per cent population decline driven by rampant poaching and habitat loss.
In 2010, governments of the 13 tiger range countries decided that innovative conservation efforts were needed.
The most ambitious and visionary species conservation goal was set: to double the number of wild tigers by 2022 – the next Chinese year of the tiger.
A version of this article appears in print on July 05, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.