KATHMANDU – Nepal is poised to become the first country to double its wild tiger population. The government of Nepal announced today there are now an estimated 235 wild tigers, nearly doubling the baseline of around 121 tigers in 2009.
Funding for the population surveys in tiger range countries comes from, among others, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation and WWF, including thousands of dollars Canadians donated through World Wildlife Fund Canada. WWF-Canada Asian big cat expert Rinjan Shrestha frequently travels to Nepal to contribute to tiger conservation efforts with funding from supporters in Canada.
Rinjan Shrestha, WWF-Canada lead specialist on Asian big cats, says: “This incredible achievement shows that when conservation groups, local communities and government work together, we can meet even the most ambitious targets. I vividly remember working on the first nation-wide survey in 2009, and we were hopeful it was the beginning of a positive chapter for the tiger in Nepal. While it’s great to see everyone’s hard work result in an increase in wild tigers, the fact is that more intensified conservation efforts are needed to ensure a future for this majestic cat. As tiger populations increase, Nepal must remain committed to keeping both wildlife and people who share their habitats safe.”
Bishwa Nath Oli, secretary of the Ministry of Forests and Environment, Nepal: “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. 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.”
Leonardo DiCaprio, WWF-US board member and chair of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation: “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. 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. I am proud of my foundation’s partnership with WWF to support Nepal and local communities in doubling the population of wild tigers.”
Nepal conducted its national tiger survey between November 2017 and April 2018 in the transboundary Terai Arc Landscae, a vast area of diverse ecosystems shared with India and Nepal where tigers can be found.
Camera traps and occupancy surveys were used to estimate tiger occupancy and abundance, while line transect surveys were used to derive prey density.
The survey covered five protected areas together with corridors and adjoining forests, with an estimated 18 tigers in Parsa National Park, 93 in Chitwan National Park, 87 in Bardia National Park, 21 in Banke National Park and 16 in Shuklaphanta National Park.
The previous tiger survey in 2013 estimated the tiger population at 198.
The tiger and prey-base survey was led by the government of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation and Department of Forests, in partnership with WWF-Nepal, National Trust for Nature Conservation and Zoological Society of London (ZSL) Nepal.
The survey was funded by WWF, ZSL Nepal, National Trust for Nature Conservation, USAID’s Hariyo Ban Program II, KfW/ICN, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Panthera and WildCats Conservation Alliance.
In 2010 at the St. Petersburg Tiger Summit, the governments of the world’s 13 tiger range countries committed the global goal known as Tx2 to double the number of wild tigers by 2022, the next Chinese year of the tiger. WWF is a key driver of the Tx2 goal, working with governments, businesses, development partners, local communities and many others to ensure tiger conservation is given the priority and investment it requires.