KATHMANDU, July 30: With the recent tiger survey putting the number of wild tigers in Nepal at 235, the country is headed toward becoming the first country in the world to double the number of tigers by 2022.
Led by the government and supported by various conservation agencies, Nepal established a baseline for tigers using camera traps in 2009 with an estimate of 121 tigers.
A key scientifically robust technique in this endeavor has been the use of camera traps to identify individual tigers to derive an estimate. While tigers inside protected areas enjoy most of the limelight, this photo feature delves into the lives of tigers and their surroundings outside protected areas through exclusive camera trap images.
BEYOND PROTECTED PATHS
Tiger survival in their natural habitats, a mix of grasslands and forests, depends on the availability of food, meat and water. Studies show that tigers require 200-250 kg of flesh on a weekly basis to sustain themselves. As such, a key area of focus in tiger conservation is sustaining habitats for their prey base; adequate grasslands and forest cover, large connected areas to roam alongside balanced availability of water resources.
FOOD TO EAT, WATER TO DRINK
Normally, core tiger habitats include alluvial floodplain grasslands, wooded grasslands, riverine forests, Sal forests including the Churia habitat often termed as the “forgotten tiger land”. Managing habitats within corridors and bottlenecks are critical as it provides easy passage for dispersal of tigers between core areas. In the given scenario, habitat enrichment programs that increase prey population, ensure water availability and minimize human disturbances, are critical to tiger recovery outside protected areas.
HOME SWEET HOME
While Nepal has come a long way in protecting and almost doubling its tiger numbers, major challenges jeopardize the country’s progress. Prey poaching, infrastructural development, human pressures on habitat, change in land use and land cover dynamics triggered by climate change are some of the major pertinent threats facing tigers. And while consistent efforts are being made to overcome these roadblocks, sustenance and replication of such efforts have helped yield positive results for the survival of this majestic species and consequently that of our own.
(The authors of this report are associated with WWF Nepal)