Nepal is set to become the first country to double its tiger population as part of the World Wildlife Foundation’s (WWF) “Tx2” programme which aims to double the number of tigers all over the world.
Nepal’s tiger population has risen to 235 from the baseline population of 121 counted in 2009, the WWF said in a statement released on Sunday to commemorate National Conservation Day.
With four years remaining before the 2022 deadline, Nepal looks set to achieve its goal.
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Bishwa Nath Oli, Nepali forests and environment secretary, said: “Protecting tigers is a top priority of the government,” and the growing numbers signalled a “successful implementation” of conservation efforts.
Nepal conducted a national tiger survey between November 2017 and April 2018.
The Tx2 programme aims to double the world’s tiger population by 2022, the year of the tiger in the Chinese calendar.
“This significant increase in Nepal’s tiger population is proof that when we work together, we can save the planet’s wildlife – even species facing extinction,” said Leonardo DiCaprio, WWF-US board member and chairman of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which has funded tiger conservation since 2010.
Thirteen countries with tiger ranges agreed to the plan, which hinges on “encouraging trans-boundary collaboration” to achieve increased protection and maintain habitats for the endangered creatures.
According to the WWF’s Tx2 website, there may have been as many as 100,000 tigers roaming the world a century ago.
Numerous factors, including poaching and habitat loss, led to the decline in numbers.
By 2010, as few as 3,200 tigers were left, the WWF website says.
In 2016, of the 13 countries with tiger ranges, India had the largest population with 2226. Russia and Indonesia had 433 and 371 tigers respectively.
China had fewer than five and Vietnam fewer than seven tigers in 2016.