Nepal's results are an important milestone to reaching the global TX2 goal of doubling the number of wild tigers by the year 2022," stated Megh Bahadur Pandey, Director General of Nepal's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. "Tigers are a part of Nepal's natural wealth and we are committed to ensuring these magnificent wild cats have the prey, protection and space to thrive."
Tigers are found in the Terai Arc Landscape stretching 600 miles across 15 protected area networks in Nepal and India. The two countries embarked on the first-ever joint tiger survey using a common methodology in January 2013. In Nepal, the field survey was carried out between February and June 2013 followed by two months of data analysis to arrive at the final estimates. It was agreed by the two governments that each country could release its national estimates and that a joint report will be released later in the year to provide a landscape-wide estimation of tiger populations and a better understanding of tiger movements in the trans-boundary landscape.
Nepal's analysis covered five protected areas and three corridors. It revealed tiger populations have tripled in Bardia National Park, from 18 (17 - 29) in 2009 to 50 (45 - 55), and doubled in Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve, from 8 (8 - 14) in 2009 to 17 (13 - 21). Tiger numbers in Chitwan National Park, home to the country's largest number of wild tigers, have also increased from 91 (71 - 147) in 2009 to 120 (98 - 139). The results have also shown a comeback of tigers in the recently declared Banke National Park with the presence of 4 (3 - 7) tigers.
"While we celebrate the positive results from this tiger survey, WWF calls on the government of Nepal to redouble efforts to protect these conservation gains that could easily be lost as human-tiger conflict increases and illegal wildlife trade empties our forests," stated Anil Manandhar, Country Representative of WWF Nepal. "Tigers are an iconic symbol of wild nature and WWF will continue to work closely with the government, conservation partners and local communities in Nepal to get to TX2."
The tiger and prey-base survey was a collaborative effort of the Government of Nepal's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and Department of Forests, WWF Nepal and National Trust for Nature Conservation. It was funded by WWF UK, WWF Australia, WWF US, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Hariyo Ban Program (funded by USAID), and US Fish and Wildlife Service.
July also sees the launch of a new partnership between WWF-UK and Whiskas, the UK's number one cat care brand, to support the daily work of WWF in the Terai Arc region of Nepal as well as provide much needed funds for WWF's global Tigers Alive initiative. To find out more go to www.whiskas.co.uk/wwf
For more information contact:
Sr. Manager-Communications and Marketing, WWF Nepal
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Notes to the Editor:
Tigers in Nepal: The Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) is found primarily in India with smaller populations in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar. It is the most numerous of all tiger subspecies with fewer than 2,500 left in the wild.
Tiger conservation in Nepal: The country made significant strides in tiger conservation right from the 1960s. The Terai Arc Landscape helped focus on connectivity and communities as critical elements in protecting tigers. It laid particular emphasis on community empowerment for conservation through the wide-ranging community forestry program and mobilization of local communities in anti-poaching efforts. The National Tiger Conservation Committee chaired by the Prime Minister was established in 2010 which has played a key role in pushing the tiger conservation issues and agenda at the highest political level.
Tackling tiger trafficking in Nepal: The Wildlife Crime Control Bureau, Nepal Army and Nepal Police (Central Investigation Bureau) have been at the helm of enforcement operations, which has led to a series of arrests and seizures over the years. As an added measure, the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network, whose Secretariat is in Kathmandu, has helped build a regional response to curb illegal wildlife trade. The introduction of smart patrolling techniques such as Management Information System Technology (MIST) within protected areas has further helped strengthen protection measures for tigers.
The Terai Arc Landscape: Since its inception in 2000, the Terai Arc Landscape remains one of the most innovative field programs designed to sustain a future for wild tigers. Stretching 600 miles across 15 protected area networks in Nepal and India, and connected by wildlife corridors, the Terai Arc Landscape allows tigers to disperse freely, conserving their natural behavior, ecology, and genetic diversity. The Terai Arc Landscape has among the highest densities of tiger populations in the world and has been recognized as a global priority landscape for tiger conservation. Studies have also shown that it is among the world's most critically threatened tiger habitats. Conservation initiatives here require, more than ever before, better ecological knowledge to undertake the scientific management of tiger populations.