Kathmandu: In encouraging news on the wildlife front, Nepal has witnessed a jump in tiger population over the last two years during which the numbers of the wild cat went up from 155 to 176.

The latest tiger count made public by WWF Nepal shows an increase of 21 tigers since 2010, an increase of 15 percent.

The rapidly dwindling population of the tigers has turned out to be a major worry for wildlife conservationists around the world, including in Nepal. In 2000, Nepal was home to over 350 tigers, but the numbers plunged to 121 in 2008.

The latest report brings some good news to conservationists and authorities who have been trying to fight the menace of poaching.

As per the newly published report of the tiger census released on the occasion of World Tiger Day, the greatest increase in numbers has been recorded by the Bardiya National Park situated in western Nepal in the last four years.

Since 2008, the number of tigers more than doubled to 37 -- 15 male and 22 female -- in Bardiya National Park, where only 18 tigers were found in 2008.

"We are very much encouraged by the increase in tiger population. If all the tiger habitats of Nepal can be protected like the one in Bardiya we will be able to double the tiger population by 2020 as per the global target," WWF's Country Representative Anil Manandhar said.

Besides, the Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve situated in the far west of Nepal is home to 10 tigers -- 6 female and 4 male, according to the latest census.

Another 129 tigers are found in the Chitawan National Park, making a total count of 176 tigers.

The census was carried out by Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation with the support of WWF Nepal through the latest technology of camera trapping.

As part of efforts to boost awareness measures, WWF has roped in top Nepali actor Rajesh Hamal as the WWF Nepal's Goodwill Ambassador for conservation.

"We need to focus on conserving the tiger habitat and ensuring abundant availability of their prey species," Manandhar said.

The anti-poaching activities need to be strengthened so as to control wildlife trade, he pointed out.

Nepal is home to Royal Bengal Tiger or panther tigris-tigris in scientific term, which is popularly known as Pate Bagh in the local language.

The Bengal Tiger's total population has declined to 3,200 in the wild and their population is mainly confined to few pockets in Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan, according to WWF Nepal.


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