What does the growing number of tigers mean for Bhutan?

A 27 percent increase in tiger numbers, reflecting successful conservation strategies and ecosystem health

As per the National Tiger Survey Report, there has been a significant surge in the number of tiger count in Bhutan, which indicates the amount of effort put in for the conservation and a conducive environment for the species to thrive in, such as a healthy forest cover and ecosystem. The country’s tiger population saw a rise of 27 percent since the last report in 2015 which now brings the official count of tigers in Bhutan to 131.

Nevertheless, the rise in tiger numbers is not free from complications. The increasing tiger population has unavoidably escalated conflicts between humans and wildlife, mainly due to tigers preying on livestock. This problem carries significant outcomes, impacting the income of nearby farmers and the well-being of the tiger community as well.  During the launch of the 4th National Tiger Survey Report of Bhutan on 29 July, the Foreign Minister Dasho Dr Tandi Dorji said, “It is of immense pride for our country to confirm an increase in the tiger population in our country.”

A senior forestry officer in Sarpang, Bal Krishna, stated that the increasing number of tigers indicates that there is an ecological balance and all the protection measures are working well.

He said, “The increasing number of tigers is governed by several factors such as the regular monitoring through camera traps, public awareness on conservation of tigers, stringent rules and large geographical area under the protected area system including good connectivity through biological corridor.”

Country Director of WWF Bhutan, Chimi Rinzin, acknowledged the efforts and initiatives of Their Majesties in their visionary leadership. The success is attributed to the 60 percent forest cover to be protected at all times to come. “I think these are important milestones that have been set in the Constitution. It’s because of these efforts that we are now seeing the positive results, in terms of increasing the number of tigers,” he added.

He also showed the appreciation to Department of Forests and Park Services. “They have been quite effective in providing the larger conservation services, there has been a lot of monitoring from their side, and the efficiency of the monitoring has improved because of the deployment of some of the technologies such as smart patrolling,” he added.

Chimi Rinzin said that the tiger holds a prominent position in the food chain, signifying that as the tiger population grows, it reflects the presence of the entire ecosystem’s health. The expanding tiger numbers serve as an indicator of a thriving ecosystem. The growing number of tigers also helps in maintaining the overall food chain, controlling the other wild animals in large numbers to graze in farmlands. In this regard, Chimi Rinzin shared that, tigers predominantly rely on wild boars and deer as their prey, and occasionally prey on cattle. To illustrate, if tigers were absent, the population of wild boars would surge uncontrollably, leading to challenges in its management. This situation would indeed increase the dangers and potential hazards faced by farming communities.

The aim is to facilitate harmonious living between humans and wildlife, with a specific emphasis on tigers. “We advocate for the adoption of a secure strategy, one that safeguards our local communities from encounters with wild animals.”

He shared, “We work to enhance the well-being of these wild animals by enhancing their habitats, ensuring that our communities remain shielded through supportive measures.” Although the compensation provided for livestock losses due to wildlife interactions might not completely cover the damages,  they aim to extend this assistance to more farmers, he added. The WWF is dedicated to providing support in various capacities to ensure the feasibility of coexistence.

Appreciations also need to be directed towards the efforts of the rangers. While technical assistance and resources are extended, it’s important to highlight the crucial on-ground contributions made by the frontline forest officers and rangers.  

Check Also

PM clarifies the Nu 100 bn and Nu 15 bn question

The Prime Minister Dasho Tshering Tobgay during the meet-the-press clarified that there was no earlier …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *