Alarming fall in the number of Nepal’s endangered tigers

July 2nd, 2008 - 12:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, July 2 (DPA) A survey into the number of Nepal’s endangered tigers has shown the population has declined to dangerous levels, reports said Wednesday. The survey carried out in western Nepal’s Bardiya National Park estimated the number of Royal Bengal Tigers at just 14, down from 36 in 1999.

“During the survey we were able to photograph only five adult tigers in the 82-day period,” said Annapurna Das, director of the National Parks and Conservation Department.

“Analyzing the photographs, we estimate the number of tigers, including the cubs to be not more than 14.”

The department blamed poaching for the dwindling population in the reserve, which is thought to be one of the best tiger habitats in the country.

“During our last survey four years ago, we were able to photograph 17 adult tigers,” Das said. “The fall in the number of tigers is alarming.”

Das said the department believed poachers were crossing the porous Nepal-India border and operating in Nepalese forests after the tiger population was decimated in the adjoining Indian tiger reserves.

The 1,000-sq km Bardiya National Park located in western Nepal is the largest protected area in the country and home to several endangered species including one-horned rhinos.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), less than 150 tigers remain in the wild in Nepal mainly confined to Chitwan National Park in central Nepal and Bardiya National Park in western Nepal.

The WWF says over the past 100 years, tiger numbers worldwide have declined by 95 percent and three sub-species have become extinct - with a fourth not seen in the wild for over 25 years.

Tigers are mainly poached for skin and body parts that are in high demand in China and in some other East Asian countries for their perceived medicinal value.

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