Tiger, snow leopard numbers dip

SHYAM BHATTA/RAMESH KUMAR POUDEL KATHMANDU/CHITWAN, July 27: The tiger census conducted this year has put the total number of adult tigers in Nepal at 121.

Making public the report of the census carried out from November 19, 2008, to March 7, 2009, in 14 districts on Monday, the government said the tiger population slightly declined from 2003 when their number was 123. Similarly, the number of snow leopards has been estimated to have declined in between 300 and 400, while previously their number was estimated to be in between 400 and 500.

The counting of tigers was done using ´capture´ and ´recapture´ method that uses snaps taken by automatic cameras placed at certain places. The stripes of tigers, which never match with another tiger, caught in the camera are then analyzed to avoid repetition in counting.

Chitwan has 91, Bardiya 18, Shuklafanta eight and Parsa four tigers according to the census which found tigers even outside conservation areas in some districts.

The dwindling number of tigers and snow leopards should be taken with due gravity, says Deputy Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Megh Bahadur Pandey. Conservationists have been on a high alert ever since the Sariska National Park in Rajasthan, India, announced that it lost all its tigers two years ago.

The census carried out using employees of the government, the department, National Nature Conservation Trust and World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal and 300 automatic cameras cost around US $360,000 (around Rs 26.1 million).

The counting of snow leopards was done in the mountainous region from Ganesh Himal to Rolwaling, Sagarmatha, Makalu Varun and Kanchanjungha with the financial help from WWF America, England and Finland. Published on 2009-07-27 21:01:01 http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=7932

3 thoughts on “Tiger, snow leopard numbers dip”

  1. Chitwan tiger population up
    Last Updated : 2009-07-27 2:22 PM
    Himalayan News Service
    CHITWAN/KATHMANDU: After a long delay, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation in coordination with the WWF and the National Trust for Nature Conservation released an estimated population of the endangered tigers and snow leopards of Nepal.
    It said that there were a total of 121 adult tigers spread over the four protected areas, with the highest number in the Chitwan National Park with 91 tigers. Bardiya National Park, Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve and Parsa Wildlife Reserve were estimated to have 18, eight and four tigers respectively. Similarly, the estimated population of snow leopards is 300-400 in the Himalayan region.

    Organising a press conference in Chitwan’s Sauraha on Saturday, the department made public the statistics with the surging number of the tigers.

    According to camera trappings in the tiger census in 2000, it had been conjectured that there were around 60 adult tigers in Chitwan National Park.

    The tiger census was conducted for four months — from December 2008 to March 2009. Camera trappings and scouting footprints were the two major techniques to survey the number of tigers.
    According to a separate press statement distributed to journalists earlier, a total budget of Rs 25 million had been spent for the tiger census in 2009. There were 300 cameras placed in various parts of the conservation and park areas. Manpower of 9,480 workers, including 40 employees, 45 volunteers, 85 technicians from Nepal government, National Park, Wildlife Conservation Department, National Nature Conservation Fund and WWF were mobilised for the purpose.

    Although the first ever nation-wide estimation of the tiger population brought a positive ray of hope among conservationists, the result, they said, was far too speculative and created confusion about the actual population. The present estimation of the number of tigers through the recent census is also not conclusive as they are all based on speculation. Moreover, the census shows that number of tigers are increasing in Bardiya and Shuklaphanta.

    Meanwhile, the government has launched ‘Tiger Conservation Action Plan 2008- 2012’. A comprehensive management plan has been devised aiming to increase the population of tigers by 10 per cent within the first five years of its implementation.

    The main reason for the decline of tiger population has been attributed to poaching and illegal trade. Rapid deforestation destroying the habitat of the tigers and the lack of hunting grounds for the tigers are also a major factors in the decrease in the number of tigers. Apart from these, sporadic cases of retaliatory killings in nearby settlements also are reducing the numbers.

  2. Good news and bad news for the Snow leopards of of Nepal
    August 10, 7:03 PM Green Living Examiner Amy Lou Jenkins

    Pugmark signs are used as part of the assesment of snow leopard population
    The good news is, there are more snow leopard in Nepal than officials imagined. The bad news is the species is still very vulnerable to poaching, and the long-term viability of the species remains at risk. The preliminary population estimate of snow leopards in the Nepal Himalaya conducted by WWF in collaboration with the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) has shown the presence of about 300-400 animals. The figures were recently released by the Government of Nepal.
    The study was undertaken with funding from WWF-US, WWF-UK and WWF-Finland. “The population estimate was based on the model describing the relationship between sign (scrape) encounter rates, the snow leopard numbers assessed through genetic analysis and the habitat suitability assessment in the Nepal Himalaya,” says Dr. Rinjan Shrestha, Conservation Biologist with WWF Nepal. “This model is useful for providing relatively good estimates of populations at landscape scales, when the conservation actions are urgently needed and when data gathering poses a challenge to developing and implementing conservation strategies.” Snow leopards are widely, but patchily and sparsely distributed throughout the alpine ecosystems of the Himalayan mountain range. Their preferred habitat is considered to be rugged, non-forested landforms, dominated by cliffs, rocky outcrops, and ravines. Because this terrain is quite inaccessible to people, and because snow leopards are elusive by nature, very little information is available on their distribution and population status.
    “The declining numbers of snow leopard due to the widespread poaching for bones and pelts, and retaliatory killing call for urgent and strategic conservation action,” said Mr. Anil Manandhar, Country Representative, WWF Nepal. “Simple, inexpensive, but effective and standardized methods are needed to acquire reasonable estimates of snow leopard abundance and distribution in the Nepal Himalaya that can become the basis for a conservation strategy.” “In Kangchenjunga Complex, the presence of 18 snow leopards shows the success of the Livestock Insurance Scheme (LIS) in involving the local communities in saving the snow leopards from retaliatory killings,” said Dr. Ghana Shyam Gurung, Conservation Program Director, WWF Nepal.
    The LIS is being replicated in other snow leopard landscapes with a vision to save the snow leopard throughout its landscape ranging from Dolpo in the west to Kangchenjunga in the east. In Nepal, the endangered snow leopards are listed in Schedule 1 of the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1973, thereby making it a priority species for conservation. “The results from the present study is exciting and positive but we can not stay unworried saying this,” said Dr. Uday Raj Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, Government of Nepal.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.