In a major step towards wildlife conservation, Nepal began a nationwide tiger census from the Parsa National Park (PNP) on November 30, 2017.
The census was launched by Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) Secretary Yubak Dhoj GC at a ceremony held at PNP.
The survey would cover all the protected areas and forest areas that are prone to tiger population.
Its noteworthy here that a separate national tiger survey conducted, since the last census, inside the protected areas indicated a gradual rise in the country’s tiger population over the years.
“We are hoping to reach the goal earlier than other countries because of our improved tiger conservation. It won’t be a big surprise if Nepal emerges as the only country succeeding in doubling its tiger population by the assigned year,” says Man Bahadur Khadka, Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC).
On the other side, Nepal and India have also planned for a joint initiative to conduct tiger census.
“This is the first time we are conducting tiger population survey simultaneously. Such initiation will minimize the duplication of tigers, which roam around the protected areas of the both countries,” says Khadka.
The census will be conducted using 1,200 high-tech automatic cameras method. “This is very scientific and reliable method to know about the tiger population in our protected areas,” informed Khadka.
The census would be conducted in three complexes divided based on tiger habitat, including Chitwan-Parsa Complex, Banke-Bardiya Complex and Shukla-Laljhadi-Jogbudha Complex, which are further divided into total 1887 grids, each under an area of 4 sq.km.
Besides technology, the 66-day census will also involve human resources and elephants.
Human resources from the DNPWC, National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), protected areas officials, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal, Nepal Army, District Forest Offices, and representatives from the buffer zone committees, among others, are being mobilized for the count.
While the total project cost is estimated at Rs 32 million, the WWF Nepal, Zoological Society of London Nepal and NTNC are extending financial, technical and managerial assistance.
Nepal has endorsed the ‘Tiger Conservation Action Plan for Nepal (2016-2020)’ for tiger conservation.
According to a 2013 census, Nepal’s tiger population stands at 198, with 120 in Chitwan National Park (CNP) alone, followed by 50 in Bardiya National Park (BNP), 17 in Shuklaphanta National Park (SNP), seven in PNP and four in Banke National Park.
The current move by Nepal is line with its commitment to the Global Tiger Recovery Plan endorsed at the 2010 St Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation.
Under the commitment, Nepal is targeting at doubling its tiger population up to 250 or more by 2022.