Nepal has nearly tripled the number of wild tigers since 2009

The 2022 Nepal National Tiger and Prey Survey found that there are now 355 wild tigers in the country, an increase of 190% since 2009.

The comprehensive survey covered 18,928 square kilometers – more than 12% of the country – and required 16,811 days of field staff time.

The announcement is a huge win for conservationists and tigers alike, Jennette Henley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation for the World Wildlife Fund US, told CNN.

“Tigers in Nepal and everywhere else they live in Asia, about 10 countries, have been in steady decline for two main reasons,” Henley said. “The most pressing cause was poaching for the illegal animal trade. The second reason was habitat loss.”

“In 2010, it was clear that we were going to lose the Tigers unless we made a concerted effort to turn things around.” Then the governments of the countries that harbor tigers set a target To double the number of wild tigers by 2022 Petersburg International Summit on tiger protection. Nepal is the first country to release updated numbers of tigers in 2022.

Henley said Nepal “really stands out as a leader in conservation, especially for tigers.”

“There is support for keeping tigers at the highest level of government,” she said. “This has translated into effective habitat protection, enhancing the protection of tigers in national parks, and wildlife sanctuaries.”

According to Henley, one of Nepal’s major strengths is its focus on wildlife corridors, which are forest corridors to help connect the fragmented portions of tiger habitats.

“Nepal has been a pioneer in the areas of reforestation to ensure that these links are restored and preserved,” she said. When tigers mature and are separated from their parents, “tigers need to disperse. This dispersal is only possible if tigers can move safely.”

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Henley said another major factor in the Nepali tiger’s return is community involvement in conservation projects.

“Communities are the driving force behind this,” she said. “They are employed to do reforestation, to maintain the habit, and are directly involved in conservation.”

Henley added that WWF has been involved in ecotourism projects in Nepal. With tiger numbers recovering, protected tiger national parks have become popular tourist attractions, with park revenues helping support community needs. This promotes a sense of community investment in conservation projects, Henley explained.

Another key component in restoring tiger populations, Henley said, is finding ways for humans and tigers to coexist safely.

“What we really need is a comprehensive approach,” she said. “Observing tigers, and knowing where they live, can help communities stay safer.”

Nepal has also had success using practical tools, such as predator-resistant fencing for livestock and lighting the perimeter of villages at night to ward off tigers.

Henley said that the deployment of compensation programs for farmers whose livestock have been killed by tigers also allows for better coexistence between humans and tigers.

Conservationists refer to a concept known as “social tolerance” to describe the ability of a particular community to tolerate a certain number of animals such as tigers. “Understanding this dynamic and social resilience is a new area of ​​focus for us,” Henley said.

“Unless the people who live with tigers there want it, we’re not going to put them there,” she said.

Protecting tigers also helps protect other endangered or threatened species. “Effectively, if we were to protect one tiger, we would be protecting 10,000 hectares of forest,” Henley said. Tigers also live in “some of the carbon-rich forests”. And it will “help us mitigate climate change as well if we protect these very rich forests.”

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But while Nepal is the tiger’s success story, Henley noted that there are still many countries where tigers are in “crisis.” She said tigers have become extinct in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos since 2000. “We have to look at the elements that led to success in Nepal and India and try to replicate them. The most important part of it is political will and political leadership.”

The United States also plays a role in tiger conservation. Henley Referred to the Big Cat Public Safety Act, A piece of legislation that would put limits on private ownership of tigers in the United States and hopefully help prevent big cats from entering the illegal animal trade.
There are about 3900 tigers in the wild, According to the World Wildlife Fund, The species is considered endangered.

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