- Title: NEPAL: Conservationists encouraged by tiger population rise
- Date: 2nd August 2013
- Summary: TECHNICIAN LOOKING AT EQUIPMENT
- Embargoed: 17th August 2013 13:00
- Location: Nepal
- Country: Nepal
- Topics: Environment
- Reuters ID: LVA5SK6M9FDHML047ULZB2X6JGLI
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: The number of wild Royal Bengal tigers in Nepal has increased to 198, a 63.6 percent rise in five years, a government survey of the big cats showed.
The findings are crucial for the protection of endangered tigers facing the threat of extinction from poachers for the lucrative trade in their parts, encroachment of habitat by villagers due to the rise in human settlements and loss of prey.
Conservation experts credit the increase to effective policing of national parks, stronger anti-poaching drives and better management of tiger habitats in Nepal, where forests cover 29 percent of the land.
Nepal needs to carefully protect the habitat and animals on which tigers prey so the big cats have enough space to roam and food to eat, experts said.
"By the deadline, that means 2022, we are very much hopeful that we can reach our target, if our conservation partners and the government and the local communities and the law enforcement agencies, if we do the work equally and collectively together," said Maheshwar Dhakal, an ecologist with Nepal's National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Department, adding that the Himalayan nation was on target to achieve its goal ahead of the deadline.
Conflicts between people and wild animals are frequent in Nepal, which has pledged to double the population of tigers by the year 2022 from an estimated 2010 level of 125.
As the number of tigers have increased over the years, so have incidents of conflict with villagers.
Seven people were killed in attacks by tigers around national parks last year compared to four in 2011, park officials said.
"To increase the tiger numbers, that is the nascent objective, and every local community, they are agreed, and they support it. While the numbers are increasing, so far, my understanding is that, in the department, we have two, one is the responsibility is increasing now, because we have to maintain this population with a very healthy ecosystem, but at the same time we have some challenges, the conflict between tigers and local communities might be increased," Dhakal said.
The study was supported by the conservation group WWF and the United States.
Thousands of tigers once roamed the forests in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. But their numbers have plummeted to just about 3,000 now, wildlife experts say.
In Nepal, kings used to stand on tiger skins in front of stuffed tigers for special occasions. The monarchy was abolished in 2008.
Some affluent Nepalis have mounted tiger heads on the walls of their living rooms.
Tiger parts are also in high demand for use in traditional Chinese medicines, conservationists say.
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