The latest edition of Nepal’s tiger census began on Sunday, during which 300 enumerators will be scattered throughout Parsa, Bardia, Banke, Chitwan and Shuklaphanta national parks to record the country’s big cat population.
The tiger census begins immediately after Nepal finishes counting its human population. The Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) will release the figure on World Tiger Day on July 29. In 2018, the total number of wild tigers in the country was 235.
For the census, the Chitwan-Parsa region was considered as an area divided into three blocks. Banke-Bardia as the second area was divided into four blocks. Shuklaphanta and Laljandi were placed in the third category.
A grid two kilometers long and one wide will be built in the split block. The three blocks of Chitwan Parsa were divided into 1924 grids. These grids are equipped with automatic cameras to capture the activity of the tigers.
“We have made arrangements such that the tigers will certainly cross paths with our camera traps,” said DNPWC Director General Ram Chandra Kandel. “We will then calculate the number by analyzing all the tigers captured by the camera.”
Some 3000 images of camera traps will be taken throughout the investigation, which will then be analyzed by trained technicians. While it is possible that the same tiger will be photographed multiple times, two big cats can be distinguished by the length of their fur, which is different for each individual. Before the year 2000, tigers were numbered according to their steps.
Nepal is an international model for tiger conservation and the first country to double its big cat population after the Tiger Conference in Petersburg, Russia in 2009. It is expected to record the highest number of tigers in the country. nowadays.
The Nepalese government started the census in 1995, when there were only 98. In 2018, the country recorded 235 tigers, up from 121 in 2009. Chitwan National Park has the highest number of mammals with 93, followed closely by 87 in Bardia. There are 21 more in Banke, 18 in Parsa and 16 in Shuklaphanta, according to the latest survey.
In recent times, there have been more frequent sightings of big cats also at higher altitudes. In April 2020, a Royal Bengal tiger was seen 2,500 m away in Dadeldhura. This was followed by another sighting, this time at 3,165 m, in Ilam Forest.
But conservation successes have also brought challenges. Protected areas are now overcrowded with predators in relation to the density of their prey. This pushes tigers and other mammals out of forests in search of food, in turn leading to increased human-animal conflict.
The increase in human-animal conflicts threatens social harmony and endangers hard-won conservation gains.
But wildlife-friendly infrastructure such as overpasses and underpasses have been shown to significantly reduce human-animal conflict in Nepal, as has better management of protected areas, including animal transplantation taking into account predator-prey ratio and plant species at the location.
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