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07/30/2013

One good wildlife story: tiger population goes up in Nepal

Tigers

In this handout photograph received from Nepal's department of national parks and wildlife conservation, a Royal Bengal tiger walks in Bardiya National Park in southern Nepal. The number of Royal Bengal tigers living in the wild in Nepal has reached 198. 

There is some good news in the world of wildlife: the number of wild tigers is on the rise, at least in tiny Himalayan state of Nepal.

Its government announced on Monday — Global Tiger Day — the result of a recent survey which has put the number of wild tigers in the country at 198 (163-235). This means tiger population has increased by 63 per cent from the last survey in 2009.

Among others places in the world, tigers, says World Wildlife Fund, are found in the Terai Arc Landscape stretching 1,000 kilomtres across 15 protected area networks in Nepal and India.

Tigers are notoriously elusive, and live in remote and rugged terrain — which is why it is prohibitively expensive and time-consuming to track them. But countries are doing it better now with improved equipment.

Using new techniques like durable camera traps, India and Nepal have for the first time conducted a joint survey in the Terai Arc Landscape that spans the two neighbouring countries. The survey was done earlier this year and covered protected areas, critical forest corridors, community forests, reserve forests and buffer zones.

These results are an important milestone to reach the global TX2 goal of doubling the number of wild tigers by the year 2022, Megh Bahadur Pandey, the director general of Nepal’s department of national parks and wildlife conservation, said in a statement. “Tigers are a part of Nepal’s natural wealth and we are committed to ensuring these magnificent wild cats have the prey, protection and space to thrive.”

Meanwhile, there is no respite for rhinos.

Over 514 rhinos have been killed in South Africa by poachers this year. This figure was released by South Africa’s department of environmental affairs earlier this week. Majority have been killed at the Kruger National Park, which borders Mozambique.

Raveena Aulakh is the Toronto Star's environment reporter. She is intrigued by climate change and its impact, now and long-term, and wildlife. Follow her on Twitter @raveenaaulakh

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