The Prime Minister of Nepal has announced that the number of tigers in Nepal has nearly tripled in 12 years. But concerns about the human cost of recovery for big cats are growing after an increase in fatal attacks.
From a low of 121 in 2010, the population of the Nepalese Bengal tiger has risen to 355, according to the latest survey, revealed by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, on the occasion of International Tiger Day on Friday.
Conservationists have hailed Nepal’s success in helping the big cat recover through a crackdown on poaching, expanding national parks and creating wildlife corridors with neighboring India.
Nepal is the first of 13 tiger range countries to update its numbers ahead of a summit due to be held in Vladivostok, eastern Russia, in September to assess global conservation efforts to protect the big cat.
In 2010, governments committed to doubling the number of wild tigers in the world by the next Chinese Year of the Tiger, which is this year. The numbers reached an all-time low of 3,200 in 2010, down from around 100,000 a century before.
But in Nepal, dozens of recent tiger attacks on humans have led to warnings that communities living near protected areas are paying a heavy price for the animal’s recovery.
Over the past three years, there have been 104 tiger attacks within protected areas and 62 people have been killed, according to the Kathmandu Post. Victims were often attacked while collecting firewood, grazing livestock or searching for food in the forest.
Shiv Raj Bhatta, WWF’s conservation program manager in Nepal, said the increase in tiger numbers was good news, but cautioned that the country was entering a new phase of big cat recovery where humans have to learn to live alongside tigers.
“Now people are seeing and encountering tigers everywhere, so cases of conflict between tiger and humans are increasing. This indicates that the number of tigers is almost at the maximum level in Nepal. We are a small country. This increase is a new challenge for the government. Now we need to show tigers and humans can to coexist.”
The number of 355 tigers announced on Friday comes close to Nepal’s estimate Capacity up to 400 Along the Chitwan-Parsa complex, a landscape in the foothills of the Himalayas in India and Nepal is rich in wildlife, including elephants and rhinos. Due to the climate crisis, the population of the Nepalese tiger is also expanding northward to higher elevations.
Mayokh Chatterjee, a member of the IUCN group specializing in human-wildlife conflict and coexistence, said the problems associated with tiger numbers were not limited to Nepal, and tiger region governments had to carefully manage the situation.
“We are seeing the ill effects of an increase in tiger numbers in India and an increase in conflict with humans. I think it will kill the tigers if governments don’t roll up their sleeves and start working with the communities that live nearby. In the past three to five years, we have seen a very large increase in electrocution From tigers, tiger hunting, as well as random culling by people.Ten years ago you would not have seen that.
Chatterjee studies the reasons behind tiger attacks on humans in national parks in India that are related to those in Nepal. It has been found that cases of predators are rare, and most of the accidents are caused by accidental encounters.
“People end up colliding with tigers quite often, so this results in occasional encounters where tigers become startled when they are resting and respond with the attack. Our data shows that about 80% of attacks are incidental encounters where tigers have been disturbed or younger animals misread humans for prey. He said the cases of human eating are about 1%.