Authorities said on Friday that Nepal has nearly tripled its population of wild tigers in 12 years thanks to the Himalayan nation’s efforts to save these mythical felines from extinction.
Deforestation, human interference with habitat and poaching threaten to wipe out tiger populations across Asia. But Nepal and 12 other countries signed a pledge in 2010 to double the population by 2022.
The Himalayan Republic is the only country that has achieved and even surpassed this target. The latest survey this year counted 355 specimens, up from 121 specimens in 2009.
“We have achieved an ambitious goal (…), for which we thank all those involved in the protection of tigers,” said Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba during the presentation of the data in Kathmandu.
View of two royal Bengal tigers in their enclosure at Lalitpur Zoo near Kathmandu in Nepal on July 29, 2022 (AFP – Prakash MATHEMA)
Conservationists surveyed the population with thousands of motion-sensing cameras set up in the vast plains of southern Nepal, where majestic predators roam.
Wildlife experts have scrutinized many images to identify felines whose striped dress is unique.
At the beginning of the 20th century, there were over 100,000 tigers in the world, but in 2010 there were only 3,200 left, an all-time low.
The 2010 tiger conservation plan, signed by Nepal among others, is also backed by celebrities, including American actor Leonardo DiCaprio.
This soon began to bear fruit, and in 2016 the World Wide Fund for Nature and the World Tiger Forum announced that the population of wild tigers had increased for the first time in over a century.
However, Nepal’s internationally recognized conservation efforts have had a negative impact on some communities living in these plains. About 16 people have died in tiger attacks over the past year, according to government figures.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) spokesperson Gana Gurung praised the results obtained by Nepal, which is a benchmark for the conservation of tigers in the world, adding, however, that they have caused other problems.
“Now the challenge is to manage this and deal with the tiger-human conflict… we have to take a comprehensive approach to minimize the problems,” he told AFP.