Tiger conservation in south Asia: lessons from terai arc landscapes, Nepal

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The Tiger (Panthera tigiris tigiris) is an iconic, charismatic and umbrella species of certain terrestrial ecosystems. Globally the species faces very serious threats through habitat loss, and human-tiger conflicts like poaching and illegal trade of its body parts. There is clear need for policy-makers and conservationists to give greater attention to conservation strategy, if the species is to be saved in the wild. The iconic status of the tiger in terrestrial ecosystems, means success in its conservation has wide implications for the survival of other species. This study aimed to assess and review the efforts made by the Government of Nepal and its achievements in terms of conserving the tiger population and its prey-base. We assess the status of the species with reference to the Global Tiger Recovery program (GTRP) and the progress made by the Government of Nepal. The study was carried out in the lowlands of Nepal, the Terai Arc Landscape (TAL), an important tiger landscape compromising six protected area of Nepal and nine protected areas in India. However, this paper covers only the Nepal part. The TAL (Nepal part) extends from Bagmati River in the east to Mahakali River in the west. There are six tiger bearing protected areas in the TAL, and Chitwan National Park supports the largest tiger population, one of the very few protected areas with more than 100 tigers. This study was largely based on review of literature, as well as informal interviews of the field staff involved in tiger conservation activities, protected area managers, and policy makers. Information was collected during the nation-wide tiger survey conducted from January to June 2013.

Results showed that the tiger population increased by 63% in four years from 2009 (from 121 in 2009 to 198 in 2013). The increase in tiger population in that area of Nepal is an indication of positive progress in terms of the GTRP objectives while some challenges associated to human-tiger conflicts remains. Results suggest that despite the significant gain in tiger populations, policy-makers need to pay even greater attention to safeguarding tiger habitat, addressing human-tiger conflict and combating poaching and illegal trade of tiger body parts on a perpetual basis. The study further suggested that engagement of local communities in tiger conservation is an essential requirement in reducing human-tiger conflicts, strengthening trust in wildlife conservation and ensuring that conservation benefits accrue to the communities and tigers. Effective law enforcement is equally imperative in ensuring long-term survival of the species.


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