Never before has a wild tiger been spotted so high in Nepal as the one caught on a camera trap in the forested mountains of Dadeldhura in far-western Nepal – a sighting that has encouraged conservationists.
Cameras placed in Dadeldhura’s densely-forested Mahabharat region captured selfies of a Royal Bengal Tiger prowling its domain at an elevation of 2,500m, the Divisional Forestry Office of Dadeldhura reported this week.
The photos were part of a month-long campaign to prove the presence of tigers at higher elevations in the Himalaya undertaken with financial and technical assistance from the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Altogether 32 cameras were placed by the Divisional Forestry Office in the mountain forests of the Mahabharat Range in farwestern Nepal after locals reported seeing tigers. The Nepali word ‘bagh’ is often used interchangeably to mean tiger and leopard, and wildlife biologists wanted to make sure it was indeed a tiger.
They are now examining other images to determine whether the tiger simply wandered into the higher elevation, or lives in the forest. This would also help determine if wildlife like tigers are moving up to cooler areas because of the warmer weather due to climate change in the plains.
Ghana Gurung at World Wildlife Fund Nepal (WWF-N) says there is not enough evidence to suggest a link to climate change, and there could be many other factors at play. However, he says the tiger sighting shows that the extension of Nepal’s Tarai Arc project to connect the plains with Chure and Mahabharat ranges is working.
“This is a great achievement, and shows that the nature corridors offer connectivity for wildlife,” Gurung says. “It also proves that with a growing tiger population in the Tarai national parks, the animals are dispersing and moving up the mountains.”