Counting tigers in Nepal

By 3rd May 2018Blog, News

Now into our third year of funding this exciting work, counting tigers in Nepal, this blog from the field explores the remarkable recovery that wild tigers are making in the Parsa National Park. We cannot wait to see the results of this year’s census, due to be released on Global Tiger Day on the 29th July.  Thanks to all our supporters for helping us to fund this work

“Parsa National Park (PNP) is one of the most important tiger recovery sites in Nepal. Adjacent to Chitwan National Park, which boasts the largest tiger population in the country, PNP has the potential to support more tigers in the region. Realising this potential, the Government of Nepal increased the size of PNP in 2015, adding 127km2 of prime tiger habitat. ZSL has been supporting the government to restore the degraded habitat of this extension area from the very beginning, with the generous support of the WildCats Conservation Alliance.

Tiger numbers in PNP are increasing, with the addition of prime tiger habitat making a major contribution to this recovery. Once degraded habitat is now a hotspot for tigers and other wildlife. For the last three years, ZSL has made significant investments in this area to ensure: that adequate protection measures are in place to secure the tiger population; that the quality of habitat is improved; and that tigers are monitored closely each year to inform the conservation management of the population.

wild tiger in Nepal

At the 2010 global tiger summit, held in St. Petersburg, the Government of Nepal committed to doubling the tiger population to 250 individual tigers by 2022. The government then envisioned a national tiger monitoring survey carried out every four years to monitor the tiger population in the country. The last survey, which was carried out in 2013, estimated 198 tigers in the country.  The tiger population in PNP was estimated to be 7, well below its capacity at that time. Since then heavy investment and commitment by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) with support from ZSL-led projects have helped the speedy recovery of tigers in PNP.

The current project, funded by WildCats Conservation Alliance, is aimed at supporting the National Tiger and Prey Base Monitoring Survey, strengthening protection measures and trialling android-based SMART data collection using cyber tracker. The project is being implemented in the newly extended area of PNP.

The National Tiger and Prey Base Monitoring Survey has been completed following the National Tiger and Prey Base Monitoring Protocol developed by Government of Nepal, which was also supported by ZSL through an IUCN-KFW funded project. Data has been collected and is being analysed by the Ecology Section of DNPWC. DNWPC will be releasing the national tiger population data and disaggregated tiger population data for each protected area on the occasion of International Tiger Day on 29 July. In last year’s survey, tiger cubs were recorded in PNP for the first time, indicating that tigers were breeding in the protected area. If breeding tigers are recorded again this year from PNP, it will further highlight the remarkable recovery of tigers taking place here.

Part of the project is aimed at supporting army personnel, stationed at three guard posts in the newly extended area of PNP, to conduct SMART patrolling. Regular patrols are now being carried out from all three posts. Monthly reports are generated and shared with the Chief Conservation Officer of PNP to inform targeted actions to prevent illegal activities. A new version of cyber tracker is in development, and a training course in the use of cyber tracker is being planned for its release. The collection of data via android devices will reduce the possibility of data loss and reduce the time needed for data entry. This will help law enforcement staff to respond more quickly to poaching risks and other potential harm to the protected area.”

Blog kindly provided by Jake Williams & Tek Raj Bhatt, ZSL Nepal Team