Nepal's Wild Tigers Are Roaring Back From Near Extinction

The country is set to become the first in the world to double its wild tiger population.

Feb 10, 2019

Nepal's wild tiger numbers are roaring along. On National Conservation Day in September 2018, Nepal announced that there are an estimated 235 wild tigers in the country up from 121 in 2009.

Nepal is on track to be the first country to double its wild tiger population since the TX2 goal – to double the world’s wild tiger population by 2022 – was set at the St Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010. Nepal is one of 13 countries that vowed to double their population of wild tigers in the TX2 initiative.

The National Tiger Survey was conducted between November 2017 and April 2018 in the transboundary Terai Arc landscape –a vast area of diverse ecosystems shared with India – covering more than 1,700 miles of landscape.

The survey was led by Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Department of Forests in partnership with WWF-Nepal. Camera traps and occupancy surveys were used to estimate the tiger's numbers.

“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 success in Nepal has been attributed to the country's commitment to saving the tigers and the adoption of stronger anti-poaching patrols, constant monitoring and restoring places for the tigers to roam.

“Our commitment to the Global Tiger Recovery Program 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 in the WWF news release. “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.”

The partnership of the government, WWF and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which has funded tiger conservation in Nepal’s Bardia National Park and elsewhere since 2010, really worked. “This significant increase in Nepal’s tiger population is proof that when we work together, we can save the planet’s wildlife – even species facing extinction,” said Leonardo DiCaprio, WWF-US board member and chairman of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation in the WWF news release.

“Nepal has been a leader in efforts to double tigers within its own borders and serves as a model for conservation for all of Asia and the world," said DiCaprio.

With fewer than four years to go in the TX2 goal, the numbers can only be achieved if every other country commits to the same intensive type of conservation and protection methods that Nepal uses.

“Nepal is a great example for other tiger range countries to step up and commit to the same level of political will and excellence," said Ginette Hemley, senior vice president of wildlife conservation at WWF in a press release. "While this is a huge story for tiger conservation, it also highlights the constant need to ensure the protection of key habitats and the value of a landscape approach for this species to recover and thrive.”

This great conservation success story can be used as a guide to save the world's wild tigers and other endangered species. It proves that partnerships between governments and nonprofit organizations work. It's not too late.  We can save our planet if we work together.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.