Bhishma Raj Ojha, 14 Sawan, Kathmandu: This year’s International Tiger Day was observed in the country in a low-key manner due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation organised a programme at its central office Babarmahal with the participation of limited people to mark the day. Besides this, programmes were organised at local levels in Chitwan, Parsa, Banke and Shuklaphanta national parks where tigers are found. The 2010 Global Tiger Summit held in St Petersburg, Russia had announced to observe July 29 each year as the International Tiger Day.
Nepal has been observing the Day since 2067 BS. Royal Bengal is found in world’s 13 tiger range countries including Nepal. The St Petersburg Conference had promised to double the tiger population by 2022. As per the commitments, Nepal said that it would increase the number of adult tigers to 250 (by 2022) from 121 recorded during the 2009 tiger census. It means Nepal’s commitment was for more than double. According to Department Spokesperson Bishnu Prasad Shrestha, Nepal is closer to meet the target.
The Ministry last year had unveiled the results of 2018 National Tiger Census which puts the tiger population by the time at 235. During the census, 93 tigers were spotted in the Chitwan National Park followed by 87 in the Bardiya National Park, 18 in Parsa National Park and 16 in Shuklaphanta National Park, its buffer zone and surrounding forest areas. ”The census does not include the number of tiger cubs and the government is sure to meet the target of increasing the tiger population by more than by 2022,” he said.
The latest census carried out by the Department through the use of sophisticated cameras was from December 1, 2017 to April 3, 2018. In the country, the number of tigers was 98 in 1995, 109 in 2000, 126 in 2005, 121 in 2009 and 198 in 2013, according to data with the Department. The world community has praised Nepal’s success in protecting tigers and an increment in its number. Tigers are spotted at 11,057 square kilometers (68 percent) in the Tarai Arc area out of 16,161 square kilometers surveyed. Tigers are found at 98 percent of the protected area where their habitat is. Likewise, they are spotted at 60 percent of the area outside the protected zone where they are found.
It is believed that the country’s goal of doubling the number of adult tigers by 2022 given encouraging results in its latest census and country’s motivating achievements in the conservation of its biological variation. However, poaching of wild animals, conflict between human and wild animals, habitat encroachment and lack of its prey have posed challenges. The number of tigers across the globe is 3,890, according to the 2016 census with the highest number in India (2,226) and smallest in Laos (two). Royal Bengal tigers are found in Nepal, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, China, Thailand, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Myanmar, Russia and Laos.