Tigers disappear from Himalayan refuge

July 2, 2008

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is alarmed by the dramatic decline of at least 30 percent in the Bengal tiger population of Suklaphanta Wildlife Reserve in Nepal, once a refuge that boasted among the highest densities of the endangered species in the Eastern Himalayas. The recent survey of April 2008 showed a population of between 6-14 tigers, down from 20-50 tigers in 2005.

The Government of Nepal made a low-key announcement on July 1 based on the results of a long-term camera trap study conducted in large part by WWF. Officials identified poaching as perhaps the major cause of tigers disappearing from this protected area. Ironically, armed poachers have been photographed by the very equipment set up to capture tiger images.

"The loss of tigers in Suklaphanta is undoubtedly linked to the powerful global mafia that controls illegal wildlife trade," said Jon Miceler, managing director of WWF's Eastern Himalayas Program. "The evidence suggests that Nepal's endangered tigers are increasingly vulnerable to this despicable trade that has already emptied several Indian tiger reserves—clearly, this is symptomatic of the larger tiger crisis in the region. We need a stronger, more sustained response to this issue in order to protect the future of tigers in the wild."

Suklaphanta shares a porous international border with India, allowing for easy and untraceable transportation of wildlife contraband. Unlike poaching of other species like rhinos where only the horns are removed, virtually no evidence remains at a tiger poaching site because all its parts are in high demand for illegal wildlife trade.

In May, two tiger skins and nearly 70 pounds of tiger bones were seized from the border town of Dhangadi. Just last month, two separate raids recovered tiger bones being smuggled by local middlemen through the reserve.

"With only 4,000 tigers remaining in the wild, every tiger lost to poaching pushes this magnificent animal closer to extinction," said Dr. Sybille Klenzendorf, director of WWF's Species Conservation Program. "Tigers cannot be saved in small forest fragments when faced with a threat like illegal wildlife trade—this is a global problem that needs the concerted effort of governments, grassroots organizations and all concerned individuals."

WWF is committed to working even more closely with local communities and various government bodies in Nepal and India to tackle illegal wildlife trade. Activities ranging from improved community-based anti-poaching operations to entrenched informant networks and better-equipped rapid response teams are being strengthened.

Source: World Wildlife Fund

Explore further: New conservation technology network launches today

Related Stories

Wildlife group targets Myanmar-China tiger trade

November 19, 2010

(AP) -- Wildlife trafficking officials say they have reached a preliminary agreement with an ethnic minority group in Myanmar to close down markets where hundreds of poached tigers from across Asia are sold for use in purported ...

Recommended for you

'Material universe' yields surprising new particle

November 25, 2015

An international team of researchers has predicted the existence of a new type of particle called the type-II Weyl fermion in metallic materials. When subjected to a magnetic field, the materials containing the particle act ...

CERN collides heavy nuclei at new record high energy

November 25, 2015

The world's most powerful accelerator, the 27 km long Large Hadron Collider (LHC) operating at CERN in Geneva established collisions between lead nuclei, this morning, at the highest energies ever. The LHC has been colliding ...

New gene map reveals cancer's Achilles heel

November 25, 2015

Scientists have mapped out the genes that keep our cells alive, creating a long-awaited foothold for understanding how our genome works and which genes are crucial in disease like cancer.

A blue, neptune-size exoplanet around a red dwarf star

November 25, 2015

A team of astronomers have used the LCOGT network to detect light scattered by tiny particles (called Rayleigh scattering), through the atmosphere of a Neptune-size transiting exoplanet. This suggests a blue sky on this world ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.