Tiger, tiger burning bright in Nepal; tiger numbers tripled as PM Deuba commends human-tiger coexistence
"The latest tiger population in Nepal is nearly three times compared to figures we had in 2009-2010, which is nothing short of historical," said Chiranjibi P. Pokharel, a tiger expert at the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC)
Nepal has nearly tripled the population of tigers in the country as the latest census showed 355 tigers are across 24 districts of the Himalayan country, against 121 recorded in 2010. With, the South Asian country becomes the first among 12 nations that had pledged to double their numbers a decade ago.
Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Friday announced the results of the Tiger and Prey survey, conducted between December 2021 to April 2022 in all potential habitats spread across 24 districts. During the period, forest officials recorded sightings of a total of 355 tigers.
Announcing the encouraging results, Deuba said, "Human-tiger coexistence is needed for the success of conservation efforts." The feat was achieved by the successful implementation of the period tiger conservation action plan over the last decade.
In 2010, Nepal and 12 other countries endorsed the St. Petersburg declaration, where the members pledged to double the tiger population by 2022. Since then, the country has been conducting four-year periodic assessments to track its numbers.
"The latest tiger population in Nepal is nearly three times compared to figures we had in 2009-2010, which is nothing short of historical," said Chiranjibi P. Pokharel, a tiger expert at the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC).
"Tigers are apex predators right at the top of the food chain, and their populations are intricately linked to the health of ecosystems and forests, so this is undoubtedly big news for wildlife conservation as a whole," he added.
The fourth nationwide census of tigers found the highest numbers of tigers, 128, in the Chitwan National Park, situated in the South Central part of the country's inner lowland Terai belt. 125 tigers were sighted in Bardiya, 41 in Parsa, 25 in Banke, and 36 in Shuklaphanta districts.
The first nationwide assessment was carried out in 2009 and recorded 121 tigers; the second in 2013 recorded 198 tigers. The third survey, which was conducted in 2018, recorded their number around 235.
Compared to 2018, the fourth census recorded a jump of around 51 per cent in 2022, surpassing the target of 250 by a considerable margin. The results showed the effectiveness of the country's conservation efforts.
In the future, conservationists will likely face challenges such as sustainable management of their population and habitats and human-tiger conflict.
"Habitat management efforts supporting large tiger prey species like gaur, swamp deer, sambar, nilgai and wild buffalo will need to be prioritized going forward," NTNC said in its report.
The report also said managing human-tiger conflicts and engaging communities meaningfully to create conditions for coexistence with tigers will be increasingly crucial.