Na­tion-wide sur­vey con­firms 103 Tigers in Bhutan

Bhutan Times - - Home - ( Source : MoA & F)

July, 30, 2015, Thim­phu: There are of­fi­cially 103 tiger in­di­vid­u­als (Pan­thera ti­gris ti­gris) rov­ing freely within the wilder­ness of the coun­try. The es­ti­mated range of cred­i­ble tiger num­ber in the coun­try is within 84 to 124. From 78 tigers es­ti­mated in 1998, the tiger pop­u­la­tion has in­creased to 103 in 2015. This is 39 per­cent in­crease in last 17 years, which is al­most more than one tiger ev­ery year.

There is 0.46 tiger for ev­ery 100 sq. km of the over­all sur­vey area of 28,225 sq. km. How­ever, there are 2 to 3 tigers in ev­ery 100 sq. km in ar­eas such as Royal Manas Na­tional Park (RMNP), Jigme Singye Wangchuck Na­tional Park (JSWNP) and Zhem­gang for­est di­vi­sion.

All these were con­firmed by the Na­tional Tiger Sur­vey con­ducted by Depart­ment of For­est and Park Ser­vices (DoFPS) from March 2014 to March 2015 for the pe­riod of one year. The fi­nal re­port of the sur­vey was re­leased co­in­cid­ing with the Global Tiger day on July 29, 2015. The set of pure na­tional team un­der­took the gar­gan­tuan sci­en­tific ex­plo­ration which strongly sug­gest that Bhutanese pro­fes­sion­als have come of age.

The re­port states that the sur­vey was con­ducted de­ploy­ing latest meth­ods known as Spa­tial Cap­ture-Re­cap­ture (SCR) es­ti­ma­tion method and the ad­vanced mod­els of cam­era traps. Con­sid­er­ing the in­her­ent lim­i­ta­tions posed by nu­mer­ous fac­tors, the coun­try was com­part­men­tal­ized into North­ern and South­ern Block. A to­tal of 1,129 cam­eras were sta­tioned which cap­tured 1,784 tiger im­ages and 138 videos, the re­port states.

The sur­vey found that tigers in Bhutan thrives from al­ti­tudes as low as 150 in the south to 4000 me­tres in the north­ern fringes. How­ever, they are mostly con­cen­trated in north-western, cen­tral and south-cen­tral re­gion of the coun­try. Only four in­di­vid­u­als were recorded by the sur­vey from the whole eastern re­gion.

By virtue of the fact that tiger re­val­i­da­tion sur­vey cov­ered more ar­eas, tiger pres­ence were doc­u­mented from the ar­eas never known be­fore. For the first time, tigers were con­firmed in pro­tected ar­eas (PAs) such as Sak­teng Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary (WS), Jho­mot­shangkha WS, Phib­soo WS and Wangchuck Cen­ten­nial Na­tional Park (WCNP). Sim­i­larly, tiger pres­ence were es­tab­lished out­side PAs within the ju­ris­dic­tion of ter­ri­to­rial for­est di­vi­sions such as Tsir­ang, Gedu, Bumthang and Sam­drupjongkhar. Zhem­gang with 20 recorded con­sist­ing of 17 adults and 3 cubs, has the high­est num­ber of tigers.

The healthy pop­u­la­tion of the tigers also heav­ily de­pends on num­ber of breed­ing in­di­vid­u­als. The re­port boast of hav­ing cap­tured five breed­ing sites in the whole coun­try. Two fe­males were spot­ted at Paro tail­ing by two and three cubs re­spec­tively. In ad­di­tion, a breed­ing fe­male was also recorded on move­ment be­tween Jigme Dorji Na­tional Park (JDNP) and Thim­phu di­vi­sion.

Ac­cord­ing to the na­tional tiger sur­vey re­port, in cer­tain parts of the coun­try, tigers ex­ist in lo­cal­ized area. This means tigers are con­fined to one area, not mov­ing from one place to another which tigers are gen­er­ally known to do. For in­stance, none of the tigers of JDNP, Paro, Thim­phu, Bumth­nag, WCNP, and up­per part of Zhem­gang were sighted in South­ern block, stated the re­port. Sim­i­larly, none of the tigers in North­ern block were spot­ted in South­ern block.

How­ever, the re­port men­tioned that there is need to fur­ther val­i­date such an ap­par­ent pat­tern of lo­cal­ized ex­is­tence. This can be done by pro­long­ing the sur­vey pe­riod, and car­ry­ing out in­depth and long-term ob­ser­va­tion.

Other crit­i­cal find­ings of the sur­vey are that Bhutan is an im­por­tant tiger con­ser­va­tion area in the re­gion in ad­di­tion to be­ing the source pop­u­la­tion for tigers in the re­gion. Thus, Bhutan forms the crit­i­cal tiger con­ser­va­tion area within the global pri­or­ity Tiger Con­ser­va­tion Land­scape 37 for the long-term per­sis­tence of the en­dan­gered cat species in the eastern Hi­malayan re­gion, the re­port pointed out.

Fi­nally the re­port rec­om­mended that depart­ment strengthen anti-poach­ing and sur­veil­lance pro­grams. The re­port also rec­om­mends to re­visit and relook the align­ment of cor­ri­dors so that tigers in the coun­try re­ceives max­i­mized pro­tec­tion.

Mean­while else­where, from among the 13 Tiger Range Coun­tries (TRCs), Nepal, In­dia and Rus­sia have com­pleted tiger sur­vey in their coun­tries. Latest sur­vey showed In­dia cur­rently has 2226 tigers, while Rus­sia has 540.

For sur­vey in Bhutan, World Bank pro­vided Nu. 30.882 m as IDA credit adapt­able phase 2, WWF Bhutan pro­gram Nu. 6.25 m and Bhutan foun­da­tion pro­vided 200 cam­eras.

There were al­most 100,000 tigers in the be­gin­ning of twen­ti­eth cen­tury, which plum­meted to as low as 3200 in­di­vid­u­als. In 2010, dur­ing the Global Tiger sum­mit at St. Peters­burg, Rus­sia, 13 TRCs at set an in­spir­ing goal to dou­ble the tiger pop­u­la­tion to al­most 6000 by 2022.

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