The tiger is the ruler of the forest, the sheer khan in our memories and the most mighty of cats roaming on our planet. But they are in real danger of disappearing from our forests forever. In a bid to save the tigers, improve their habitat and increase numbers, 12 countries came together under the name, ‘The Global Tiger Initiative’ and came up with a plan to save the tigers. Nepal was one of the poorest countries that joined this effort. But they were determined not to let their tiger population disappear and thanks to this initiative, Tigers of Nepal have been flourishing!
The number of Tigers in Nepal have increased (almost doubled) in the last decade and continues to rise! In 2009 Nepal roughly had 120 Bengal Tigers in the wild. Now, they have roughly 235 wild tigers.
How did the Tigers of Nepal become a success story?
Nepal invested greatly in this project and the government took an active role in reaching the goal. The goal to double tiger population by 2022. Now they are only a few tigers off that goal and set to become the first country in the GTI to do so. Nepal has set the bar high but it did not come without hard work and education. So how exactly did Nepal turn their tigers into a success story?
Education: Instead of clearing out rural communities from the areas where tigers live, they educated the local people. Understanding why tigers are important and not an immediate threat was the first barrier to overcome. In these rural areas they have cattle and live stock which attracted the tiger as easy pray. Teaching the locals how to better house their animals meant less attacks, less tigers in the village and less people on a hunt for a murdering tiger. But it’s not just teaching people to live in harmony with the tiger, they had to educate people why it is so important they protect the tigers. Many people don’t know the scale of the problem worldwide and at home. Once educated, the locals wanted to help and they especially wanted to see Nepal succeed in making the tigers of Nepal a success story!
Reward Schemes: By introducing incentives for communities who reported poaching activities and those responsible. Communities in tiger populated areas soon took it upon themselves to become guardians for the tigers habitat. Why? Because if they catch poachers the whole community is rewarded. Whether that is with more money, investment or buildings; it all helps the local community. The Tigers of Nepal couldn’t have been a success story without the backing of the local communities and this was a great way to do it!
Tiger Corridors: Sounds scary to us, I mean no one would really like to meet a tiger in the corridor. But for Nepal’s Tigers, this was the key for their success. Having a safe corridor with India meant that tigers have the freedom to roam, to move and mark their territory. The problem with small parks is there is only a limited number of tigers (especially males) that can live there. Give them more space and Tigers no longer cross paths with humans as often. They no longer need to wander into farmland putting themselves, and villagers at risk. They can live in protected peace in the environment they need. Connecting the protected areas by tiger corridors has been a success and with more corridors planned, this only means more success!
Protecting the Tigers Pray: Teaching the locals to live with the tigers was not the only side to the education. Protecting the pray animals is just as important to ensuring the tigers of Nepal success story. By ensuring the pray animals numbers were high kept the tigers away from cattle and live-stock. Away from villages and people.
What’s next for the tigers of Nepal?
In short, ongoing protection. Unfortunately the illegal wildlife trade is one of the booming businesses of the world, with prices going up. Nepal has done great so far in leading the way to double tiger populations by 2020. But now it comes down to protecting the numbers they do have. Creating safe and secure parks and continuing educating people on the importance of not just the tigers success, but the environment, nature and the impact our actions can have. Nepal loves it’s wildlife and the effort in protection for not just tigers but rhinos too has been incredible!
With the government’s backing, strong communities and the awareness that education brings. We are sure the tigers of Nepal will continue to be a success story. And an example to the rest of the world. It is time that people step up and taking responsibility because if we don’t we all loose. There is no pride in staying silent and turning a blind eye. To find out more about the tiger project, head to the WWF website to see how you can support Nepal and the many other countries turning Tigers into a success story!