Nepal has made an outstanding achievement on conservation sector. Yes, problems remain. Our wild animals still face the threat of being killed, even being extinct. Poachers and smugglers are trying hard to make Nepal the smuggling hub and despite the government’s efforts to punish them, some cases are reported every now and then. Yet achievements we have made in conservation still stand tall. The case of rising number of tigers speaks of this success. According to 2018 survey on tiger population, adult tiger population in Nepal has reached to 235, a 19 percent increment from the census of 2013. According to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), Chitwan National Park has the highest concentration of tigers in the country with 93 adult tigers. Likewise, there are 87 tigers in Bardiya National Park, 21 in Banke National Park, 18 in Parsa National Park and 16 in Shuklaphanta National Park. We have almost become the first country to double tiger population in accordance with ambitious TX2 goal of Global Tiger Recovery Program. This achievement is in line with Nepal’s commitment to doubling tiger population from 121 in the world’s first tiger summit held in St Petersburg in 2010. Our achievement in increasing the number of tiger population has become the matter of celebration at home and abroad. Indeed, this is something for us all to cheer.
This was no small feat for country like Nepal. And the success is the result of collaborative efforts between the government, local communities and various donor and international agencies working in conservation. This year on World Tiger Day on Monday, Ministry of Forest and Environment organized various programs in Banke National Park. We believe that the efforts of the government, conservationists and local communities should be on three core areas. First is protection of their habitats. One reason tigers are under threat is because of encroachment on forest areas and haphazard construction of roads and infrastructures along forests, where their habitats lie. When this happens, the black cats are forced to flee and become exposed to the predators. This must be stopped right now. Though making development environment-friendly is a rallying cry among conservationists, we as a nation, have not been able to raise awareness about it at the grassroots in the same level.
Second, despite government efforts to stop poaching altogether, poachers and smugglers are still killing these cats. Now and then reports of tiger skins being smuggled to other countries through Nepal make headlines. Nepal needs to deal with these smugglers without mercy and ensure that not a single one of them goes off the hook. Most importantly, the government, local communities and conservation organizations need to increase collaboration for the cause of conservation. Tiger is considered as the most endangered big cat. Nepal has been able to make a difference and set the record of becoming the first country to double tiger population (we are almost there). We must be able to set the record by becoming the first country where poaching is completely eradicated and where tiger habitats are the safest.