Nepal: Return of the tigers brings both joy and fear

Nepal: Return of the tigers brings both joy and fear

Nepal: Return of the tigers brings both joy and fear

Nepal: Return of the tigers brings both joy and fear(credits:google)

  • Nepal has more than doubled its tiger population in ten years. Military and community units have been deployed to protect the big cats from poachers.
  • Attacks on humans have increased, with 16 people killed in the last year alone. Tigers have had a bleak recent history.
  • In 2010, 13 tiger-home countries pledged to double their wild tiger populations by 2022 – the Chinese Year of the Tiger.

Nepal has accomplished the incredible feat of more than doubling its tiger population in the last ten years, bringing them back from the brink of extinction. However, it has come at a cost to local communities in the form of an increase in tiger attacks.

“When you come face to face with a tiger, you have two feelings,” says Captain Ayush Jung Bahadur Rana, a member of a unit tasked with protecting the big cats.

“Oh, what a magnificent creature. The other question is, “Oh my God, am I dead?””

On his armed patrols across the open plains and dense bush of Bardiya, Nepal’s largest and most undisturbed national park, he now frequently sees Bengal tigers.

“It is an honour to be assigned to tiger protection duties. It’s an honour to be a part of something so monumental “Capt Ayush says as he looks around the dense forest.

To protect tigers from poachers, the military has been deployed.

The zero-poaching policy in Nepal has helped to protect the tigers. Military units assist national park teams. Community anti-poaching units monitor nature corridors that allow tigers to roam freely in buffer zones adjacent to the park.

The Khata corridor, for example, connects the Bardiya National Park to the Katarniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary in India.

“The community is terrified,” says Manoj Gutam, an eco-entrepreneur and conservationist.

“Tigers, prey species, and humans all share a small common area. The community has paid a price for the rest of the world to rejoice over Nepal’s tiger population doubling.”

In Nepal, tigers have killed 16 people in the last year. A total of ten people were killed in the previous five years.

The majority of the attacks took place when villagers went into the national park or buffer zones to graze cattle or collect fruit, mushrooms, and wood.


In some cases, tigers have ventured into local villages after emerging from national parks and nature corridors. There are fences between wildlife and humans, but the animals have gotten through.

Bhadai Tharu bears more than just battle scars from the tigers he is attempting to save. He was attacked in 2004 while cutting grass in a community forest near his village. He had lost an eye.

“The tiger jumped at my face and let out this huge roar,” he describes the scene.

“I was taken aback right away. The tiger then bounced back like a bouncing ball. I punched him with all my might and yelled for help.”

When he removes his aviator sunglasses, which he rarely does, deep scars and his missing eye are revealed.

“I was both angry and depressed. What went wrong for me as a conservationist? “He thinks back. “However, because tigers are endangered animals, we have a responsibility to protect them.”


Tigers have had a bleak recent history.

There were approximately 100,000 wild tigers in Asia a century ago. By the early 2000s, that figure had dropped by 95 percent, owing largely to hunting, poaching, and habitat loss. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, there are now between 3,726 and 5,578 tigers left in the wild.

Bardiya National Park, which covers 968 square kilometres (374 square miles), was established in 1988 to protect endangered wild animals. The area used to be a royal hunting reserve.


In 2010, 13 tiger-home countries pledged to double their wild tiger populations by 2022 – the Chinese Year of the Tiger – in an effort to save them from extinction.

So far, only Nepal has met the target.


Nepal’s tiger population has increased from 121 in 2009 to 355 by 2022. The big cats are mostly found in the country’s five national parks. Populations of other species, such as rhinos, elephants, and leopards, have also increased.

Tiger forests that were once hunted are being managed so that they can recover and thrive.
Park authorities have created more grasslands in order to maintain a healthy population of wild tigers. They have also increased the number of waterholes to provide an ideal habitat for deer, which are the tigers’ primary prey.

Bishnu Shrestra, chief warden of Bardiya National Park, claims that these human interventions, which have helped the tigers thrive, are going too far.

“We now have enough space and prey density in the park to manage the tigers in a sustainable manner,” he insists.



People living near Bardiya National Park have generally supported conservation efforts, but as tiger numbers increase, there is growing concern.

“Tourists come to see the tigers, but we [have to] live with them,” says Samjhana, whose mother-in-law was killed in a tiger attack last year. She had been cutting grass for their cattle deep within the park’s boundaries.

“I loved her more than my own mother,” she sobs, holding the only photo she has of her.

Samjhana is seeking restitution for the death of her mother-in-law.
“Over the next few years, more families will suffer like mine, and the number of victims will skyrocket,” Samjhana warns.

Tigers have not only invaded farmland, but have also entered nearby villages.


Lily Chaudhary, who lives in Sainabagar village on the outskirts of the Bardiya National Park, went to feed her pigs near her home in March of this year.

Villagers discovered her seriously injured by a tiger, her lower limbs mauled. She died not long after.

“Since then, we’ve all been afraid to go alone to feed the pigs or cattle in the backyard,” Ms Chaudhary’s younger sister, Asmita Tharu, says.

Local residents have protested big cat attacks.

People in Bhadai Tharu’s village rose up on June 6 after a leopard attacked Ashmita Tharu and her husband, just a week after a tiger killed someone in a nearby community forest.

Around 300 people marched through the streets, demanding that authorities do more to protect them.


The crowd set fire to the community forest office. When the police arrived, they were met with rocks. The teenager Nabina Chaudhary, the niece of the couple attacked by the leopard, was killed when security forces opened fire on the crowd.

Her brother Nabin Tharu was only a few metres away when it happened.

“I wanted to take her body off the road,” he says, “but the cops were beating people.”

“Nothing was wrong with my sister. Is it wrong to demand security? Is it wrong to demand safety?”

Nabina Chaudhary, 18, was shot by police.
The Nepalese government has promised Nabin’s family $16,000 (£13,000) in compensation and has stated that a statue honouring her as a martyr will be built. However, the family is demanding a thorough investigation.


Authorities have pledged to look into building more fences and walls to separate humans and wildlife in an agreement signed with the local community following the unrest.

When a tiger kills a human in Nepal, the animal is tracked down and captured. Seven so-called man-eating tigers are currently imprisoned.

“I would say that tiger protection is our responsibility, and people protection is our duty,” says Capt Ayush Jung Bahadur Rana as he returns to base.

“A greater number of tigers and people means that there will almost certainly be conflict. Maintaining peace between two species will be difficult.”

Officials are looking into alternative income opportunities for those who use the national park to collect materials or graze cattle. They intend to train locals to start small businesses or work in tourism.

“A misunderstanding separates humans and wildlife,” he says.


“The tigers live in our forest. They will become enraged if we enter their domain. They will attack if we allow goats to graze in the forest.”

His team is planning to build more secure livestock stables and to create more grassland in the community forests adjacent to the park so that the tigers have plenty of deer to eat.

They also teach classes for the next generation, who will have to deal with the reintroduction of the tigers. Children are taught about tiger behaviour and are not allowed to venture into the forest alone. Many children would say a tiger is their favourite animal if asked.

“I try to make people understand that tigers have a right to exist here,” Bhadai says.

“Why should it be limited to humans?”

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