According to an announcement by the Nepalese Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), the nation’s tiger population has rebounded impressively in the past nine years – an encouraging sign that the ongoing efforts of government agencies and various non-profit organizations to protect the imperiled cats are paying off.
The uplifting news comes after a comprehensive field survey conducted between November 2017 and April 2018 found 235 Bengal tigers in Nepal, up from 121 in 2009.
"This is a result of concentrated unified efforts by the government along with the local community and other stakeholders to protect the tiger's habitat and fight against poaching," Man Bahadur Khadka, director general of DNPWC, told AFP.
"The challenge now is to continue these efforts to protect their habitats and numbers for the long-term survival of the tigers," he added.
Once found throughout the Asian continent and several Asian islands, tigers (Panthera tigris) have been wiped out of existence in many regions and are endangered in all their remaining pockets of habitat due to human activities, chiefly deforestation for agriculture and urbanization (more than 40 percent of native tiger ecosystems have been destroyed in the past 20 years alone), depletion of prey species, and poaching.
Per the IUCN Red List, tigers have disappeared from Java, Bali, southwest and central Asia, and from large areas of southeast and eastern Asia over the past 100 years. Currently, tigers inhabit about 7 percent of their former range, with evidence of breeding populations in Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Russia, Thailand, and potentially China and Myanmar. It is estimated that there were around 100,000 tigers in the wild in the early 1900s; now there are around 3,200 tigers – a figure that encompasses all subspecies.
Nepal’s success provides a model of how other nations can fulfill their pledge to meet the goal of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF)’s TX2 project. Launched at the WWF’s 2010 Tiger Summit, TX2 is an ambitious research, conservation, and anti-poaching project aimed at doubling the total tiger population to 6,000 individuals by 2022 – the next Year of the Tiger in the Chinese Zodiac. Nepal and 12 other nations within the species’ range have committed to the plan.