The tiger population of Nepal’s Parsa Wildlife Reserve has increased markedly, according to a camera trap study released on International Tiger Day (today) by Panthera and the the Zoological Society of London (ZSL).
The Government of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) collaborated to carry out the 2016 population survey in Parsa as part of their ongoing partnership to protect and monitor tigers throughout the lowlands of Nepal, Panthera and ZL said in a news statement.
Nepal’s Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Krishna Acharya said, “The tiger population in Parsa Wildlife Reserve has significantly increased since the last census. This is fantastic news for tigers and it demonstrates that Nepal’s dedicated conservation efforts are delivering clear results. Nepal has committed to doubling its tiger population by 2022 and encouraging results like these show that we are on track to achieve that.”
Today, just 3,900 wild tigers remain in all of Asia, largely due to poaching for the illegal wildlife trade, the statement added. “Nepal is estimated to support 163-235 tigers, according to a 2013 population survey. The 2016 survey confirms that Parsa specifically has seen around a 45 percent annual increase in its tiger population.”
Beacon of Hope
Panthera Senior Tiger Program Director John Goodrich stated, “The impressive rise in Parsa’s tiger numbers has been fuelled by the natural movement of animals from neighboring Chitwan as conditions in Parsa have improved over the past three years. This is a testament to how law enforcement and strong government leadership can change the game for tigers. At a time when poachers are waging an all-out war against wildlife, Nepal serves as a beacon of hope for the tiger.”
ZSL’s Conservation Programmes Director Jonathan Baillie said, “Success for tiger conservation requires viable habitats, stringent protection, effective monitoring and community engagement and when those conditions are in place, tiger numbers will flourish as Parsa has demonstrated very clearly. Nepal’s exemplary track record in conserving its iconic wildlife makes it a conservation leader in the South Asian region.”
Nepal’s tremendous commitment to increasing coordinated law enforcement activities, harsh prosecution for poachers, and wildlife monitoring sets the nation apart from many other tiger range states, ZSL and Panthera continued in their statement. “Hundreds of dedicated personnel from the Nepal Army and DNPWC jointly patrol Parsa Wildlife Reserve and other protected areas, preventing poaching of Nepal’s iconic wildlife, from the tiger to the greater one-horned rhinoceros. Yet there is still much work to be done.”
Parsa’s tiger rebound can also be attributed to the empowerment of the country’s National Park and Wildlife Reserve Wardens, who maintain the authority to arrest, convict and sentence poachers. the two wildlife conservation organizations said. “This model is in stark contrast to many tiger range states where poachers often escape with little to no jail time or fines, even after sentencing.”
“The success of these stringent anti-poaching efforts is especially evident in neighboring Chitwan National Park. Acting as a source population for Parsa, tigers from Chitwan have moved into the adjoining landscape, accelerating population recovery, and ultimately creating a larger more viable population that extends across both protected areas.
“Since 2014, Panthera and ZSL have collaborated in Parsa Wildlife Reserve to monitor tigers and their prey using camera traps, and provide training for effective law enforcement and use of SMART, a computer-based platform that improves the effectiveness of wildlife patrols.
“Parsa is also a trial site for innovative conservation technologies, which have been effectively deployed to provide valuable information to park managers. This includes ZSL’s seismic and magnetic sensors and Panthera’s PoacherCam – a remote camera that distinguishes people from wildlife and can transmit images to law enforcement, to stop poaching before it happens.
“ZSL in partnership with DNPWC has also recently equipped and supported the deployment of a state of the art Rapid Response Patrol team in Parsa, which further strengthens the capacity of the park management to prevent tiger poaching before it takes place.
“Over the next few years Panthera and ZSL plan to expand their efforts to support the Government of Nepal in its tiger conservation initiatives across three other protected areas that are home to tigers in the lowlands of Nepal.”
Learn more about Panthera’s Tigers Forever Program
Learn more about ZSL’s conservation efforts in Asia
This post was compiled from materials sent by Panthera and ZSL.
David Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.
He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.
Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship.