Event marked amid number fears

  • Delayed tiger count report blamed on suspected fall in wild cat population at Chitwan park
- Post Report, Kathmandu

Jul 30, 2018-

Nepal celebrated the International Tiger Day 2018 with much fanfare even as the much awaited Tiger Census report was not released on Sunday.

The government has stalled release of the final report of the nationwide tiger census, which began on November 30 last year from the Parsa National Park (PNP).

The government was pressed to release the report on July 29, the Tiger Day. To the dismay of the public and stakeholders, the release was cancelled at the last hour.

Failure on the government’s part to make public the report eight months after the count began has been viewed with suspicion. The report would have ascertained the total number of adult tigers in the country.

The unexpected delay has been linked with the number of tigers in the Chitwan National Park, the protected area with the highest number of wild cats in the country.

According to the last census held in 2013, the CNP had 120 adult tigers, which is suspected to have significantly decreased since.

CNP data show the park recorded deaths of 11 tigers in the last three years, including six in the fiscal year 2017-18.

In the last five years, 33 tigers had died in the country’s protected areas due to natural causes, according to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC).

The government has attributed the delay to additional time required for analysing data gathered from the field. For the first time, the nationwide census of Royal Bengal tigers was conducted simultaneously with India. The joint approach was meant to minimise duplication of tigers, which roam around the protected areas of both the countries.

According to DNPWC Deputy Director General Gopal Prakash Bhattarai, the report was held back since the data were not processed on time.

“After field work, we began data analysis on May 15. We have to analyse and compare every single picture from the field. Since we also have to go through data similarly processed by the Valmiki Tiger Reserve of India, it is likely to take more time,” added Bhattarai.

The country’s potential tiger habitat was divided into three complexes: Chitwan-Parsa, Banke-Bardiya and Shukla-Laljhadi-Jogbudha. These complexes were further divided into a total of 1,887 grids, each with an area of 4 square kilometres, where 1,643 camera traps were installed in these grids to track tiger movements.

Forest and Environment Ministry Secretary Bishwa Nath Oli defended delay in the tiger census report on the ground of accuracy required in the findings. “We have to best utilise science, technology and our own experience rather than misusing it in the rush. The government will publish the report at the right time after conducting a thorough analysis of available data,” said Secretary Oli, adding that there was no compulsion as such to publish the report on a particular day.

The last tiger census report was released on the International Tiger Day in 2013.

According to that count, the number of Royal Bengal tigers in Nepal was 198--120 in the CNP, 50 in Bardiya National Park (BNP), 17 in Shuklaphanta National Park (SNP), seven in PNP, and four in Banke National Park.

DNPWC Director General Man Bahadur Khadka said the country’s tiger conservation efforts were dedicated towards its global commitment to the Global Tiger Recovery Plan, endorsed during the 2010 St Petersburg Declaration on Tiger Conservation, requiring Nepal to double its tiger population up to 250 or more by 2022 from its base tiger population of around 125 at that time.

Now the government aims to release the report on National Conservation Day, which is celebrated annually on September 23.

Tiger count in nepal

  • Potential tiger habitat divided into three complexes: Chitwan-Parsa, Banke-Bardiya and Shukla-

    Laljhadi-Jogbudha

  • Complexes divided into 1,887 grids, each with an area of 4 sq km. 1,643 camera traps installed to track tiger movements
  • In 2013, the number of Royal Bengal tigers in Nepal was 198
  • 120 in Chitwan National Park, 50 in Bardiya National Park, 17 in Shuklaphanta National Park, 7 in Parsa National Park, and 4 in Banke National Park.
  • The 2010 Global Tiger Recovery Plan requires Nepal to double its tiger population up to 250 or more by 2022 from its base tiger population of around 125 at that time

Published: 30-07-2018 07:20

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