Tiger conservation getting tougher


Narayan Adhikari
CHITWAN, July 29: The conservation of ‘Pate Bagh’ (Royal Bengal Tiger) has become more challenging in the Chitwan National Park (CNP), a habitat to 140 of the engendered wild cats.

The Royal Bengal Tiger is listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). The latest tiger census puts the number of the Royal Bengal Tiger at 198.

Chief Conservation Officer at the CNP, Bed Kumar Dhakal stated that the conservation of the endangered wild animals was becoming more challenging due to the increasing population and wanton encroachment on forests and the buffer zones.

The unregulated activities of the locals in the buffer zone such as fishing, fern picking, cutting bumbershoot and uncontrolled invasion by wild weeds such as Mikania among others are also posing threat to the depletion of water sources and decrease of carnivores animals making the protection of the wild cats tougher.

Furthermore, flooding in the rivers inside the CNP and the damage caused to the green fields and wild animal also added challenge to the conservation effort of the tiger.

Dhakal shared that the tigers in CPN sometimes were tracked in the Parsa National Park and the Balmiki Tiger Reserves in the neighboring area in search of spacious habitat.

Chitwan National Park, including the buffer zone, sprawls across 1,300 square kilo meters.

Dr Chiranjivi Pokharel, tiger specialist at the National Trust for Nature Conservation’s Central Zoo, opined that the loss of habitat, poaching and smuggling of the body parts of the wild animals and depleting food were the major challenges facing tiger conservation.

Dr Pokharel shared the Royal Bengal Tiger is found across 13 countries across the globe and among the 9 species, three had already gone extinct. The specie of Royal Bengal Tiger found is Nepal could be found only in India, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
He strongly voiced for effective coordination of efforts for the conservation of the tiger from one and all concerned agencies in coming days.

Initiative has been taken to double the population of tigers after its number was immoderately declined to as few as 3,000 up to the year 2010 from around 100,000 some seventy years ago.

Nepal had counted 198 tigers in 2013 Survey. Among them, the highest numbers (120) were counted in Chitwan National Park, 50 in Bardiya National Park, four in Banke National Park, seven in Parsa National Park and 17 in Shuklaphanta National Park.

Former Chief Conservation Officer at Chitwan National Park Ramchandra Kandel shared that the main prey species of wild cats are spotted chittal, swamp deer, gaurigai (Bos Gauras) and blue bulls, among others. The small wild species are not adequate to quench the appetite for tigers.

Kandel further shared, “A tiger can eat up to 88 kg at once and takes rest for up to 10 days. So, there needs an adequate availability of big animals in the national park”.

Likewise, a male tiger requires 10 to 12 square kms area. Only one male tiger lives in one territory.

Narrowing habitat, fragmentation of forest, poaching, illegal trade, lack of institutional structure, shortage of competent human resource, lack of scientific research and study and short of effective monitoring among others are the challenges for tiger conservation of late, shared CNP’s former Chief Conservation Officer Shivaraj Bhatta.