The construction of a Regional Center for Tiger and Cat Research has begun in the south central border town of Gelephu.
“Bhutan with more than 70 per cent forest cover and with more than 50 per cent under protected areas in the form of National Parks and Biological Corridors offers the best hope for the conservation of many endangered wildlife like tigers and Snow Leapord,” said the minister for agriculture and forests, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji, who attended the ground breaking ceremony on March 12. “Bhutan has almost 4 per cent of the world’s tiger population and establishing a center that conducts research to provide critical information on tigers and wild cats conservation is very befitting and timely. The center would not only cater to the needs of Bhutan but also to the other tiger range countries in Asia.”
The director of department of forests and park services, Phento Tshering, said the research center would help in understanding and scanning the status of tigers and wild-cat in one of the most pristine tiger dwellings.
The center would also play a significant role in the regional conservation of wildlife species and also promote Bhutan’s stand in international platforms as one of the most environmentally aesthetic countries in the region.
Senior tiger biologist Tshering Tempa said that most of the tiger population in the country is found in the southern foothills and the establishment of a center at Gelephu would be the best place because the tiger dotted areas such as Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary (SWS), Jomotshangkha Wildlife Sanctuary (JWS), Phipsoo Wildlife Sanctuary (PWS) and Wangchuk Centennial National Park (WCNP) are near Gelephu.
There are officially 103 tiger individuals (Panthera Tigris Tigris) in Bhutan according to the nationwide survey of July 39, 2015. The estimated range of credible numbers in the country is within 84 to 124.
From 78 tigers estimated in 1998 the numbers increased to 103 in 2015. This is a 39 per cent increase in last 17 years, which is almost more than one tiger every year.
“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 long-term persistence of the endangered cat species in the Eastern Himalayan region,” the survey report states.
The center will be supported by World wildlife Fund, Bhutan Foundation and other donor agencies.