Nepal doubles its wild tiger population in under 10 years

Once upon a time, the world was overrun with tigers. Less than a century ago, as many as 100,000 of the big stripey cats may have prowled through Asia’s mountains and jungles. Today, the wild tiger population hovers below the 4,000 mark.

There are nine subspecies of tigers, three of which are extinct [Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo]
There are nine subspecies of tigers, three of which are extinct [Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo]
But there’s a bright spot on the horizon for Earth’s largest cat. As part of the World Wildlife Fund’s efforts to double tiger populations by 2022, the next Chinese year of the tiger, governments of 13 countries are rallying around the animals. Now, as Al Jazeera reports, Nepal is the first country set to meet their target—four years ahead of schedule.

In 2009, Nepal’s tiger numbers were languishing at around 121. According to a national tiger survey held between November 2017 and April 2018, that figure has since risen to a booming 235, and is all but certain to hit 242 in the next four years. The pressure is now on for the other 12 countries with tiger ranges to follow suit, including India, which had 2,226 tigers in 2016, and Russia and Indonesia, which have 433 and 371 tigers respectively.

It’s a big ask. But conservationists—and their Hollywood spokespeople—are feeling optimistic. ”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, a board member of the association and chairman of his own eponymous charity, which has funded tiger conservation since 2010.

Nepal to double Tiger population

Nepal is set to become the first country to double its tiger population as part of the World Wildlife Foundation’s (WWF) “Tx2” program which aims to double the number of tigers all over the world.

Nepal’s tiger population has risen to 235 from the baseline population of 121 counted in 2009, the WWF said in a statement released on Sunday to commemorate National Conservation Day.
There are nine subspecies of tigers, three of which are extinct.

With four years remaining before the 2022 deadline, Nepal looks set to achieve its goal.

Bishwa Nath Oli, Nepali forests and environment secretary, said: “Protecting tigers is a top priority of the government,” and the growing numbers signaled a “successful implementation” of conservation efforts.

Nepal conducted a national tiger survey between November 2017 and April 2018.

The Tx2 programme aims to double the world’s tiger population by 2022, the year of the tiger in the Chinese calendar.

“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.
Declining population

Thirteen countries with tiger ranges agreed to the plan, which hinges on “encouraging trans-boundary collaboration” to achieve increased protection and maintain habitats for the endangered creatures.

India: Last of the Tigers

According to the WWF’s Tx2 website, there may have been as many as 100,000 tigers roaming the world a century ago.

Numerous factors, including poaching and habitat loss, led to the decline in numbers.

By 2010, as few as 3,200 tigers were left, the WWF website says.

In 2016, of the 13 countries with tiger ranges, India had the largest population with 2226. Russia and Indonesia had 433 and 371 tigers respectively.

China had fewer than five and Vietnam fewer than seven tigers in 2016.