Supporting Trans-boundary Tiger Recovery in India and Nepal

©Sagar Giri

As part of the IUCN/KfW funded Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme, Himalayan Nature, with the support of the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), will implement the Supporting Trans-boundary Tiger Recovery in India and Nepal project in collaboration with the National Trust for Nature Conservation and the Government of Nepal. The study sites under Himalayan Nature in Nepal include Bardia National Park (BNP), Banke National Park (BaNP), Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve (SWR) and buffer zones of all three protected areas.

With less than 3500 tigers left in the wild (2010 status), it is vital to preserve and restore remaining habitat to ensure survival of this endangered species. This three year project “aims to secure the Terai Arc Landscape to increase tiger populations through improved management and monitoring of trans-boundary tiger sites” in all study locations. Areas of focus include improving law enforcement, sustainable development for local communities and enhancing biological monitoring.

Himalayan Nature was involved in many development and conservation awareness activities and took the lead on community based projects. Major activities consisted of awareness sessions on human-tiger conflict and tiger conservation, determination of extent of livestock grazing, establishment of community based livestock insurance scheme, promotion of alternative livelihoods (improved-breed rearing, homestay operations, nature guide training, etc.), as well as training for enhancement of skills such as driving, plumbing, electronic repairs and construction. Initial visits and consultation with local communities across BNP, BaNP and SWR found that there was a demand for ecotourism related alternative livelihood options such as nature guide, homestay operation and nature driving. Taking this into consideration, Himalayan Nature conducted a basic nature guide training for a total of 43 community members from the three project sites. Similarly, there were 36 participants representing the three PAs for a homestay training led by Himalayan Nature; and a total of 40 local community members across all three sites participated in driving training. Additionally, awareness raising workshops were also conducted at the project sites where wildlife conflict-prone buffer zone communities were briefed on tiger conservation, human-tiger conflict and wildlife damage relief guidelines.

These are some of the ways in which Himalayan Nature contributed to community welfare and promotion of nature and tiger conservation through this project. The following activities were conducted by the organization in the first year of the project:

  1. Strengthening education and awareness programme on human-tiger conflict and tiger conservation in buffer zones of BaNP, BNP and SWR,
  2. Economic and technical feasibility study to reduce grazing in the protected area boundary by providing better access to alternative fodder crops for communities around BaNP, BNP and SWR,
  3. Dissemination of awareness materials about the relief guidelines for buffer zone communities of BaNP, BNP and SWR,
  4. Collaboration with community members of BaNP, BNP and SWR protected areas to formulate and establish a community based livestock insurance scheme,
  5. Identification of key community members for inclusion in alternative livelihoods scheme of buffer zones of BaNP, BNP and SWR,
  6. Identification of most viable options for alternative livelihoods,
  7. Skills training, including driving, and how to apply this skill as a business for buffer zone communities of BaNP, BNP and SWR,
  8. Nature guide training for selected community members within buffer zones of BaNP, BNP and SWR,
  9. Responsible tiger tourism training for local guides and drivers, on tiger tracking, biology and conservation; and responsible green and social aware tourism training for lodge operators around BaNP, BNP and SWR,
  10. Training on homestay operation skills, including promotion, hygiene, hospitality, cooking and finance management for community members of buffer zones of BaNP, BNP and SWR.

Activities planned for this year include preparation and publication of field protocols, institutional development training to community groups, communication support to Community Based Anti-Poaching Units (for early warning system and reporting), relief support to tiger victim families, provision of fodder crop seedlings to buffer zone user community groups, exposure visits and conservation awareness events.

The number of global wild tigers is on the rise for the first time after a 97% decline over the last century. With an increase in Nepal’s wild tigers, from 121 in 2010 to 198 in 2014, we are well on our way to meeting the 2010 St. Petersburg Tiger Summit goal to double wild tiger populations (6000+) by 2022. This project will help towards achieving this goal while improving participation and sustainable development of local communities.