Two nature reserves in Nepal have been recognised for their success in involving local communities to conserve their tiger habitats.
Bardia National Park in Nepal and the Khata Forest Corridor in the western Tarai have been awarded for contributing to Nepal becoming the first tiger range country to fulfil an international pledge to double its tiger population.
Bardia and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in India won this year’s TX2 Award for doubling their population of wild tigers since 2010, while Khata Forest Conservation Area in Nepal that serves as a transboundary connectivity for tigers between Nepal and India, won the Tiger Conservation Excellence award.
“They demonstrate what can be achieved through long term commitments to tiger conservation,” said Stuart Chapman of the Tiger Alive Initiative of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). “The dedication of field teams, conservation partners and communities living with tigers are behind these extraordinary results.”
WWF Nepal Country director Ghana Gurung said the award is a testament to the continuous effort, dedication and commitment shown by the government, communities, buffer zone and the national park for tiger protection. “I also deeply appreciate the enormous role communities of Khata corridor that live alongside the tigers and thrive under challenging conditions have played in establishing Khata as a globally recognized and functional corridor,” he added.
The awards celebrate the upcoming launch of the 2022 Lunar Year of the Tiger. In September, tiger range countries will convene at the second Global Tiger Summit in Vladivostok to assess progress towards the ambitious TX2 goal to double the number of tigers in the wild. The conference will also identify tiger conservation priorities for the next 12 years.
The tiger population in Bardia National Park did not just double, but increased almost five-fold from less than 20 tigers in 2009 to almost 90 in 2018 — an astounding achievement given it is situated in one of the most densely populated regions of the world.
“Successful tiger conservation involves continuous management and improvement of habitats at the landscape scale, rigorous monitoring of tigers and their prey, and working extensively with local communities, said Sugoto Roy of the Integrated Tiger Habitat Programme at the International Conservation Union (IUCN). “All of these criteria have been met with excellence, giving us these globally significant results.“
Sathyamangalam, which India designated a Tiger Reserve in 2013, was home to only 25 tigers in 2011 but today there are an estimated 80 individuals in the area. Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve, located in the Western Ghats Biodiversity Hotspot, connects with two other protected areas, supporting one of the most important and largest tiger populations in the world.
The transboundary Khata corridor was also recognised for its community-based conservation efforts, including a network of 74 community forests covering 202 km2 which have secured safe passage for tigers between Bardia National Park in Nepal and Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in India.
Over the last five years 46 individual tigers have been detected on camera traps using the corridor together with other iconic and threatened mammal species including the Asian elephant, and the greater one-horned rhino.
The TX2 goal is one of the most ambitious conservation goals ever set for a single species and the second Global Tiger Summit in Vladivostok, September 2022, offers the opportunity to set a new vision to secure their future.
Tigers numbered perhaps 100,000 a century ago but dropped precipitously to as few as 3,200 in 2010. Their numbers have slowly recovered to approximately 3,900, based on estimates from tiger range countries compiled in 2016.
Nepal is currently conducting a tiger census, and the number are expected to be even higher than in the last census. The last census in 2018 showed that Nepal’s tiger population had doubled to 235 from the previous tally in 2009. This made Nepal the first country to attain the TX2 target of doubling its wild tiger population adopted at the St Petersburg Tiger Summit in 2010.
The awards are presented by the Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CATS), Fauna and Flora International (FFI), Global Tiger Forum (GTF), IUCN’s Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP), Panthera, UNDP, The Lion’s Share, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and WWF.
Said Dale Miquelle of the Wildlife Conservation Society: “The results demonstrated by these three sites demonstrate what tiger conservation success can look like when government agencies, non-governmental bodies, and local communities work together to create a better future for both tigers and people.”