121 breeding tigers in Nepal spells new ray of hope for the species

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Washington, July 28 (ANI): Conservationists worrying about the fate of the majestic tiger can now breathe a sign of relief as about 121 breeding tigers are estimated to have been found in Nepal.

The figures announced by the Nepal Government's Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) shows the presence of 121 (100 - 194) breeding tigers in the wild within the four protected areas of Nepal.

The 2008 tiger population estimate was jointly implemented by the DNPWC, Department of Forests (DOF), WWF, National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) with support from Save The Tiger Fund (STF), WWF-US, WWF-UK, WWF International and US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

"To obtain reliable population estimates of wide ranging species like the tiger, it is important to undertake the survey simultaneously in all potential habitats," said Dr. Rinjan Shrestha, Conservation Biologist with WWF Nepal.

Previous studies had been undertaken in different time periods and at different spatial scales.

"To derive information on both abundance and distribution of tigers, the current survey employed two methods - Camera Trapping method inside the protected areas and Habitat Occupancy survey both inside and outside the protected areas," said Dr. Shrestha.

"The tiger numbers have increased in Chitwan but decreased in Bardia and Shuklaphanta," said Anil Manandhar, Country Representative, WWF Nepal.

"In spite of the decade long insurgency, encroachment, poaching and illegal trade, the present numbers is a positive sign, but we can't remain unworried.

The declining numbers in western Nepal has posed more challenges, needing a concerted effort to save this charismatic endangered species focusing on anti-poaching and illegal wildlife trade," he added.

The Government of Nepal has approved and launched the 'Tiger conservation Action Plan 2008- 2012'.

A comprehensive management plan has been devised in which the target is to increase the population of tigers by 10 per cent within the first 5 year period of the plan implementation.

"Tigers can not be saved by the effort of a single individual or a single organization," said Gopal Prasad Upadhyay, Director General, DNPWC.

"The transboundary relation with India needs to be strengthened further and all organizations should work together to conserve tigers," he added. (ANI)

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