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Tigers in Nepal

Tigers in Nepal

Tigers (Panthera tigris) are a symbol of power and are mystical and majestic creatures. They are an umbrella species and symbolize the plight of wildlife across Asian ecosystems. Tigers are also deeply embedded in the cultural history of Asia (Lumpkin, 1991). At the turn of the 19th century the global tiger population was estimated at 100,000 individuals, distributed from the forests of eastern Turkey and Caspian region of western Asia, all the way to the Indian sub-continent, China, Indo-China, south to Indonesia, and north to Korean Peninsula and Russian far-east (Sunquist, 1981). Unfortunately, human activities such as habitat destruction, loss of prey, sport hunting, poaching and illegal trade in tiger parts resulted in drastic decline with the global population declining to as low as 3,200 by 2010 (GTRP 2010). Once distributed widely, tigers are now confined to 7% of their historical range in 13 countries of the world. To address this global tiger crisis, the Global Tiger Summit 2010 was held in St. Petersburg, Russia where the heads of Governments of the 13 tiger range countries committed to double wild tiger populations by 2022 and endorsed the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP). The Government of Nepal committed to double Nepal's tiger population by 2022 and has been implementing the National Tiger Recovery Program (NTRP) since 2010.
The history of tiger conservation in Nepal dates back to as early as the 1930s when the forests in the Nepal Terai were continuous from east to west and were popularly known as 'charkose jhadi' (miles of forest). These forests had been maintained as a defensive frontier to deter invasion from the British India during the 19th and 20th centuries (Mishra and Jefferies, 1991). The Terai forests were famous as hunting grounds of the ruling class and visiting dignitaries; several anecdotal records describe large-scale hunting expeditions in Nepal. In the 1950s, the Government of Nepal undertook a malaria eradication campaign and initiated a massive resettlement program in Terai which resulted in clearing of large tracts of forest and the destruction of much wildlife and habitat. Realizing the urgency to protect wildlife, the National park and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973 was enacted by the Government of Nepal which envisioned the creation of national parks and other protected areas. Chitwan National Park was established as the country's first national park in the same year.

Tiger Habitats in Nepal:

1. Chitwan National Park
2. Bardia National Park
3. Banke National Park
4. Parsa Wildlife Reserve
5. Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve

(Picture and Text Courtesy: Status of Tigers and Prey in Nepal: DNPWC, 2014)

Published on 13 Sep, 2015