The National Tiger Survey (Census) of Chitwan and Parsa National Parks is starting from today. Tigers are found in and around Chitwan, Bardiya, Parsa, Shuklaphanta and Banke National Parks.
Chitwan and Parsa National Parks are being surveyed as one block. The nationwide survey will be launched in the middle of a special program at Sauraha in Chitwan National Park today.
According to Dr. Ram Chandra Kandel, Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, the survey is being conducted in Bardiya and Banke from Mangsir 29. The team will survey the Shuklaphanta and Laljhadi areas after working for the first two weeks.
According to him, it is estimated that it will cost around Rs. 40 million to complete the tiger census. He said that special attention has been paid for the safety of the enumerators. He informed that they have been insured for Rs. 1 million per person and arrangements have been made for the Nepal Army concerning the security of the park. A camp has been set up by selecting a safe place. Special training has also been given on how to work safely during the training.
According to Director General Kandel, the survey is being launched in the presence of senior officials including Forest and Environment Minister Ram Sahay Prasad Yadav. He informed that the program would be inaugurated on the occasion in the presence of Forest Secretary Dr. Pemnarayan Kandel, Director General of various departments under the Ministry of Forests, Forest Secretary of Bagmati Province, Heads of Divisions of the Ministry, and officials of partner organizations.
The participants were trained for two days before the start of the tiger census. In Chitwan National Park alone, some 120 elephants along with technicians and assistants will be involved in the census. According to Haribhadra Acharya, chief conservation officer of the park, enumerators have started setting up camp in their area of work. In some places, technicians set up camps on Saturday, while others are leaving in the morning. He informed that the technicians will start counting from today by setting up camps at 16 places.
A tiger survey will be conducted using camera trapping method. In Chitwan alone, 360 pairs of cameras will be installed. According to him, pictures of the tigers will be taken by installing a camera in one place for two weeks. Sixteen camps have been set up in one block of the two parks. The cameras will be placed at a height of half a meter. In some places, automatic cameras will be installed in the trees and in case of non-compliance. Tigers are counted using the capture recapture method. It is calculated by placing a pair of cameras in 2x2 grids i.e. four square kilometers. If a tiger comes around, the camera will take a picture. The photo shoot is expected to be completed in about two months.
Results will come within four more months after the picture study. A national level tiger census has been started here since 2008. The second census was in 2013, the third time in 2018 and now for the fourth time, tigers are being counted. According to Chief Conservation Officer Acharya, this time is considered suitable for counting as tigers come on the road in winter. This season has been chosen because it is difficult to count as the tigers live in the grasslands after the bushes have dried up. The tigers are being counted in Chitwan and Parsa as one complex, Banke and Bardiya as the second complex, and Shukla along with nearby Laljhadi area as the third complex or block. According to the 2018 tiger census, 235 adult tigers were found in Nepal. There were 93 tigers in Chitwan, 87 in Bardiya, 18 in Parsa, 16 in Shukla and 21 in Banke. This number is expected to increase.
Nepal had pledged to increase the number of tigers to 250 by 2022 at the Tiger Conference of 13 Heads of State, where tigers were found in St. Petersburg, Russia in 2010. At that time, there were 121 tigers in Nepal's parks. Conservationists are confident that Nepal's commitment to more than double the number will be fulfilled. The number of tigers is expected to increase this year. In Nepal, tigers are counted every four to five years.