Report from Pragati Shahi
Early this month, Nepal reported poaching of an endangered wild tiger along a wildlife corridor joining the country’s two major tiger habitats: Chitwan National Park and Parsa Wildlife Reserve.
Acting on a tip-off, a team of personnel from the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police arrested one person with a set of tiger hide and nine kilograms of tiger bones from Jarayotar Lamkana, Makwanpur district on May 6.
Twenty-nine-year old Chet Bahadur Waiba, a local, was arrested and charged with illegal possession of wildlife parts.
It is important to note that Makwanpur district has been increasingly becoming a hotspot for seizures of various wildlife parts, including leopard hides, tiger hides and body parts and recently elephant ivory.
The initial investigation has revealed that the tiger was killed about three months before the arrest, in a retaliatory act by locals, after the tiger killed eight livestock.
After the tiger killed livestock, a group of six to eight villagers bought poison from the market and laced the carcasses of the domestic animals.
The arrested man has claimed that he was just used as a carrier to transport the tiger parts, after the locals killed the tiger by using poison. The tiger fed on the poison-laced livestock carcasses and died, he said.
The initial investigation has further indicated that the tiger could be from Nepal and roaming outside the core protected areas when the incident occurred. The investigation is ongoing, the police said. The most disturbing finding from this investigation is two sets of tiger hides and bones were reported to have transported from Makwanpur, along with leopard hides.
Increasing human-wildlife altercations has been seen as a serious challenge and conservationists are finding it hard to tackle this issue that is taking toll on the conservation sector. And Nepal is not an exception.
There are frequent reports of attacks, injuries and deaths of humans by rhinos, tigers and elephants in around major protected areas. There are a host of reasons, including the increasing human activities, like deforestation, habitat degradation and forest encroachment, causing wildlife to come out of their core habitats and enter nearby human settlements.
A latest scientific report published in PeerJ on May 29 stated that Nepal lost 33,700 hectares of tree cover area between 2001 and 2016. In 2000, the total tree cover area in Nepal was 4,746,000 hectares, the report states. Chure and Tarai regions that serve as prime habitats to vital wildlife species, including tiger recorded the highest loss of total tree cover areas.
Nepal is home to 198 adult wild tigers, as per the last census report published in 2014. As a part of the global commitment by tiger-range countries, Nepal has committed to double its tiger populations by 2022.