This is, in line with the commitments made by Tiger Range Countries (TRCs) at the Tiger Summit held in Russia to double the current estimated 3,000 tigers worldwide by 2022.
Bhutan has around 75 tigers as indicated in the Global Tiger Recovery Program, and an estimated percent increase potential by 2022 is more than 20% which totals 90 tigers.
A report on National Consultations—the Road to the Tiger Summit, National Tiger Recovery Program (NTRP) in May 2010 states that the long term strategic goal is to have a demographically stable tiger meta-population in Bhutan by 2022. This is to be achieved through habitat conservation and compatible development activities and livelihoods that co-exist harmoniously with people.
Currently, the nationwide status survey of tiger is underway. The tiger survey of the Royal Manas National Park (RMNP) is complete with the population of tiger in the park inspected at around 25 to 35.
According to a wildlife conservationist, the constraints in physically counting the tigers are many owing to the rugged terrain, and so the tiger counts are based on indirect evidences gathered mainly from camera traps.
The RMNP has been carrying out grassland survey which will contribute towards the habitat improvement goal. Eight plots of grassland in two categories have already been allotted for the survey. Three plots are being experimented on differently- grass on one of the plots is left to grow naturally, the grass on the second plot is deliberately cut, and the grass on third plot is razed down with fire to observe the growth. “We are continuously monitoring the plots and after every interval the reports would be compared,” said the RMNP Park Manager, Tenzin Wangchuk. The grassland will provide grass to the prey animals which the tigers thrive on.
Another activity towards habitat improvement is water hole development plans. During peak winter, there is no drinking water source for the animals as the water table in Bhutan is too low, which trigger the animals to migrate to India.
Bhutan’s tiger recovery and conservation program has four priority components including habitat and species conservation, integrating tiger conservation and rural livelihoods, institutional capacity building and sustainable financing mechanisms.