KATHMANDU: Nepal has an estimated 235 wild tigers now, which has nearly double from 121 tigers in 2009. If these trends continue, Nepal could become the first country to double its national tiger population since the ambitious Tx2 goal—to double the world’s wild tiger population by 2022—set at the St Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010. The last tiger survey in 2013 had estimated the tiger population at 198.
“Our commitment to the Global Tiger Recovery Programme gains new ground with Nepal’s growing tiger numbers and a successful implementation of Nepal’s Tiger Conservation Action Plan,” stated Bishwa Nath Oli, Secretary of the Ministry of Forests and Environment. “Protecting tigers is a top priority of the government, and we are thankful for the able support of our partners, enforcement agencies, local communities and the international community for a common purpose.”
Nepal conducted its national tiger survey between November 2017 and April 2018 in the trans-boundary Tarai Arc Landscape (TAL), a vast area of diverse ecosystems shared with India. Camera traps and occupancy surveys were used to estimate tiger occupancy and abundance, while line transects surveys were used to derive prey density, according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal.
The success in Nepal has been largely attributed to the country’s political commitment and the adoption of innovative tools and approaches towards tiger conservation. Nepal was the first country to achieve global standards in managing tiger conservation areas, an accreditation scheme governed by the Conservation Assured Tiger Standards. With four more years to go, the Tx2 goal of doubling tiger numbers globally can only be achieved if all the tiger range countries step up and commit to a similar level of excellence.
“Every tiger counts, for Nepal and for the world,” stated Dr. Ghana S Gurung, Country Representative, WWF-Nepal. “While Nepal is but a few tigers away from our goal to double tiger numbers by 2022, it also underscores the continued need to ensure protection, and improved and contiguous habitats for the long-term survival of the species.”
The tiger survey was led by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and Department of Forests, in partnership with WWF-Nepal, National Trust for Nature Conservation and Zoological Society of London (ZSL) Nepal.