Our Current Projects
Human-Wildlife Conflict Nepal
Tiger attacks on humans in Nepal have increased 925% since 2006. Although global conservation initiatives encourage the growth of tiger populations they have largely failed to address the impacts of human-killing on local communities that depend on tiger-inhabited jungles for livelihoods. In Nepal, the success of local participation in forest management has increased tiger habitat and tiger numbers. Nepal’s Community Forestry Program decentralized forest management and allowed local Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs) to form and manage forests for themselves. As a result, forests regenerated from degraded states, and local people have benefited from increased ecosystem services and forest products. Healthy forests also allowed for the expansion and growth of Nepal’s tiger population. Today, Chitwan National Park (CNP) is one of the only places in the world where more tigers exist today than 30 years ago. However, an unforeseen consequence of tiger expansion is an exponential increase in the number of humans killed by tigers around CNP. Human-tiger conflict is one of the most urgent issues related to tiger conservation. The key to sustaining the conservation success in Nepal is to address this crisis. We are partnering with Nepal Tiger Trust and National Trust for Nature Conservation to continue studies to understand human-tiger conflict, and also to bring funding to local communities who have lost family members or livestock to 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.
Saving Thailand's Tigers
The largest tiger landscape in Southeast Asia is the 19,000 km 2 Western Forest Complex in Thailand. This landscape is one of four populations of tigers that has the highest chances of survival, and is the only remaining viable population in all of SE Asia (Thailand, Myanmar, Southern China, Laos, Cambodia or Vietnam). Thus, this population can serve as a source population to re-establish extirpated tiger populations throughout the region, and is a top priority for conservation.
Between 2010-2012 a large and extensive survey took place to look for signs of both tigers and their prey. The study identified areas of the forest where both tigers and their prey were absent, which is an indication of poaching.
Current efforts are focused around increasing tiger numbers and achieving a sustainable system for human use. Efforts are focused around monitoring the forest using Thailand’s Smart Patrol team, monitoring wildlife, and engaging local communities that live in the Western Forest Complex.