Tiger population rebounds, nearly doubling in Nepal

September 26, 2018, 9:34 a.m.
Bengal tiger gets his photo taken by a camera trap
Photo: Amy Fitzmaurice/Living with Tigers

The number of wild tigers in Nepal has nearly doubled over the past nine years as a result of conservative efforts. A survey carried out earlier this year found 235 tigers in Nepal, up from just 121 in 2009.

To count the tigers, conservationists and wildlife experts used more than 4,000 cameras, traveling a 2,700-kilometer (1,700-mile) route across Nepal's southern plains where most of the big cats are found.

"This is a result of concentrated unified efforts by the government along with the local community and other stakeholders to protect the tiger's habitat and fight against poaching," Man Bahadur Khadka, director general of Nepal's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, told AFP.

Nepal and a dozen other countries signed the 2010 Tiger Conservation Plan, pledging to double their tiger populations by 2022. Since then, the tiger population — which has been decimated by deforestation, loss of habitat and poaching — has begun to show positive changes. The World Wildlife Fund and the Global Tiger Forum announced in 2016 that the wild tiger population had grown for the first time in more than 100 years, according to AFP.

Co-existing in harmony

A tiger is caught by a camera in Bardia National Park in Nepal. A tiger comes in for a close-up, thanks to a camera trap in Bardia National Park in Nepal. (Photo: Amy Fitzmaurice/Living with Tigers)

Although this news is obviously heartening, there's a challenge that comes hand in hand with the growth: making sure people and tigers co-exist safely. A team of conservation scientists from the Chester Zoo in the United Kingdom is working with groups such as Green Governance Nepal to reduce conflict between tigers and residents.

The Living with Tigers project uses methods such as predator-proof livestock pens and changes in livestock management practices to help lessen the risk of tiger attacks on livestock and people.

"It is wonderful news for the entire conservation community around the globe and it demonstrates that ambitious conservation goals can be achieved when governments, conservation partners and local communities work together," said Kiran Timalsina, chairperson of Green Governance Nepal.

"It also highlights the need for more concentrated efforts particularly focusing on human-tiger conflict mitigation to bring about conditions where tigers and the local communities with whom they share the landscape could coexist."

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