By Pramod Raj Sedhain
Nepal has halted the near-imminent disappearance of two of the subcontinent's most vulnerable species -- the Bengal tiger and the one-horned rhinoceros -- and recorded an increase in their populations, government conservation authorities say.
Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation Tek Bahadur Thapa Gharti told UPI Next last month there are now 198 adult tigers in Nepal's wild and 534 one-horned rhinoceroses, based on the most recent counts.
"The increase of endangered species clearly indicates Nepal's success. Endangered one-horned rhinos and tigers are our natural wealth. We remain committed to ensuring our achievement," Megh Bahadur Pandey, director-general of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, told UPI Next.
The tiger figure comes from this year's first joint Indian-Nepalese government tiger survey and represents a high since Nepal began counting the big cats in the early 1970s. The population in Nepal was 121 in 2009, 126 in 2005, 109 in 2000 and 98 in 1998, National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Department data shows.
The five-month survey began in February and assessed the Bengal tiger population across a 600-mile stretch of Nepalese and Indian territory. About 500 cameras were placed in five protected areas and three wildlife corridors, and 250 wildlife experts were involved in the tiger census. Survey results were released by the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Department in July.
Forest and Soil Conservation Minister Tek Bahadur Thapa Gharti credited Nepal's zero-tolerance approach to wildlife poaching for the tiger increase. More....