On Sunday, National Conservation Day, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) shared the happy news that the tiger population of Nepal has nearly doubled from 121 in 2009 to 235.
Per Al Jazeera, this would mean Nepal is the first country of the Tx2 program to achieve this goal. The program aims to double the global population of tigers.
With just a few tigers shy and a 2022 deadline set in the program, Nepal looks well on track to achieve the goal of doubling their tiger population. The 2022 deadline was set to mark the Chinese Year of the Tiger.
Bishwa Nath Oli, Nepali forests and environment secretary, said, “Protecting tigers is a top priority of the government,” and the growing numbers signals a “successful implementation” of conservation efforts across the country. The nation conducted a “national tiger survey” from November last year to April.
Wildlife groups considered the increase in tiger numbers a major victory for the impoverished nation and, according to Channel News Asia, have taken the growth “as a sign that political involvement and innovative conservation strategies can reverse the decline of the majestic Royal Bengal tiger.”
Experts used over 4,000 cameras and walked the areas where tigers roamed with approximately 600 elephants to reach the final tally of 235.
“This is a result of concentrated unified efforts by the government along with the local community and other stakeholders to protect the tiger’s habitat and fight against poaching,” Man Bahadur Khadka, director general of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation said.
Exciting news! Wild tiger numbers have nearly doubled in Nepal due to conservation efforts. https://t.co/q255t4PsOb
— World Wildlife Fund (@World_Wildlife) September 23, 2018
“This significant increase in Nepal’s tiger population is proof that when we work together, we can save the planet’s wildlife – even species facing extinction,” said Leonardo DiCaprio, WWF-US board member and chairman of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which has funded tiger conservation since 2010.
The program encompassed 13 countries with declining tiger populations in 2009 and included agreements to “encourage trans-boundary collaboration” to achieve increased protection and maintain habitats for the endangered creatures.
Estimates on the WWF’s Tx2 website put tiger numbers at around 100,000 just a century ago. Sadly, largely as a result of poaching and deforestation, the tiger population has dwindled drastically in the past 100 years. By 2010, WWF estimated that only about 3,200 tigers were left, an all-time low. In 2016, the WWF was delighted to report for the first time that the population had actually grown globally.
Of the 16 countries that have tiger ranges, India is thought to have the largest population, with 2,226 in 2016. At the same time, Russia had approximately 433 tigers, and Indonesia was home to about 371. Shockingly, that same year, China recorded “fewer than five” tigers and Vietnam “fewer than seven.”