Saving nepal's tigers
Tigers (Panthera tigris) are among the most threatened mammals in the world. As a result of prey depletion, habitat fragmentation and poaching, the global tiger population has dramatically declined from 100,000 tigers a century ago to fewer than 3,500 tigers today. This rapid decline has resulted in their listing on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as endangered. Dwindling numbers and change in habitat pose a significant threat to these animals and could potentially lead to extinction. The decline and loss of tigers has a cascading impact on the ecosystems in which tigers reside and conversely, tigers serve as one indicator of a healthy ecosystem.
The habitat of tigers includes ecological and economically important features that are necessary for local communities to thrive. Tiger habitats conserve watersheds and protect floodplains that are necessary for rice cultivation and also create ecotourism opportunities. Tigers historically ranged across Asia from Turkey to the Russian far east. Currently, tigers inhabit less than 7% of this historic range, and of that area 70% of the current tiger population only reside in a total area less than 0.5% of that historic range. Although conservation of tigers on a large scale is an overwhelming challenge, effective ways of managing tigers is most productive on local scales. Global conservation now depends on effective management and understanding how ecological variables and human presence influences the 42 tiger source populations. Monitoring protected areas and ensuring they are suitable tiger habitat will provide long-term conservation, and our goal is to focus on Chitwan National Park in Nepal.
Chitwan is home to the fifth largest tiger population in the world. As the bengal tigers have inhabited the Terai of Nepal for millions of years, they are an important part of the ecosystem and their population needs to be maintained if the ecosystem that the animals and humans in the area rely on are going to persist. Tigers currently face persecution from poachers and their land is encroached on daily by local people. As tigers and humans share the same landscape, human-wildlife conflict occurs and therefore humans and livestock face death living amongst these predators. Today, the government of Nepal is working hard with local people to compensate for their losses, but for tigers to continue to exist not only do we need conservation efforts from the government and NGO’s but local support from the people.
Project Conservation is working hard to understand the relationship between the tigers and the people. By studying areas tigers kill in, listening to what the people want and need, and working to build support for tiger population we aim to help mitigate human-tiger conflict and raise awareness globally to bring financial support to these communities.
At approximately noon on Saturday April 25th, 2015 Nepal experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killing over 8,000 people, injuring more than 19,000 and leaving several million homeless. This earthquake was the largest natural disaster Nepal has experienced since 1934. As a result of Nepal’s geography many places experienced second hand consequences such as, avalanches and landslides. Due to the remoteness of many villages and the economic state of Nepal many areas that were largely affected have seen little or no help.
Currently Project Conservation is focusing on one village, Majhuwa. We have raised around $10,000 thanks to our amazing donors. As a few years have passed since the earthquake, Nepal is slowly rebuilding. We have sent materials to Nepal and are visiting this June to understand what has been done, and what needs to continue to happen to get them completely rebuilt.
As the idea of Project Conservation developed in Nepal we feel very closely connected to this country, especially Bishnu, Harkaman and Tirtha who are from Majhuwa and still have family living there. These three are truly some of the most selfless people we have met and have been great colleagues and have taught us a lot about conservation in Nepal. Please continue to follow our story, share our posts and make a charitable donation if possible.