Census of endangered tiger has started in Bardiya National Park from Sunday. The counting is being carried out with camera-trapping technology placed in various areas of the park.
Deputy Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) Maheshwar Dhakal and Mid-western Regional Forest Director Ganesh Raya inaugurated the census by brining the cameras used for the census into operation.
They have divided habitat of tiger and its prey into four blocks for good monitoring. Cameras have been installed in each block to monitor the movements of tiger and its prey. Although the camera-trapping technology was introduced in 2000 in Nepal, the park has been continuously using the technology to monitor its wildlife only since 2015. Prior to the introduction of the technology, the census of tiger used to be carried out based on tracking shapes and sizes of its feet. Even sex and age of tigers also used to be determined that way.
“We have begun the tiger census with 100 pairs of cameras. The census will conclude on November 28,” said Ramesh Thapa, chief conservation officer of the national park.
“Along with the census of tiger, we will also count the number of tigers’ prey,” he added.
Thapa also expects the population of tigers’ prey to go up. According to him, the number of endangered tiger has increased lately due to successful conservation efforts. Locals also said that they notice tigers more frequently these days. Officials of the national park estimate the number of tiger to increase up to 1000, which can only be confirmed after the conclusion of the census.
Earlier, the country had 155 tigers in 2010 and its number was 176 in 2012, according to the country’s tiger census. Then in the next census two years later, the number had reached 198. But the figure dropped sharply to 50 in the latest census carried out earlier this year. The current census has started with the joint initiative of the DNPWC, Bardiya National Park, Department of Forests, World Wildlife Fund, District Forest Office of Bardiya and Kailali.
Tigers are found in 12 countries, including Nepal. Each of the 12 countries has committed to double the population of tiger by 2022. However, increase in habitat encroachment, poaching and illegal trade of its body parts have posed serious challenges in the efforts of tiger conservation, said chief conservation officer Thapa.