From: Editor, World Wildlife Fund
Published January 24, 2011 08:52 AM

Nepal Translocates First Wild Tiger to New Home

WASHINGTON, DC, January 22, 2011 — A wild tiger fitted with satellite-collar was successfully translocated from Nepal's Chitwan National Park to Bardia National Park for the first time today, according to World Wildlife Fund. The translocation was led by the Government of Nepal with support from World Wildlife Fund Nepal (WWF-Nepal) and the National Trust for Nature Conservation during the last days of the Year of the Tiger. It will further Nepal's goal of doubling wild tiger numbers by 2022, the next time the Chinese calendar celebrates the endangered species.

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"This translocation—the first of its kind in Nepal—is a concrete example of our commitment to saving wild tigers using the best science available, including the application of cutting-edge technologies," said Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation of Nepal, Deepak Bohara. "I am confident that by working together the global community can reach the goals we set ourselves at the recently concluded tiger summit to save tigers to benefit people, nations and nature."

The collared tiger was an injured male rescued by park authorities from Chitwan National Park after it wandered into a hotel in the tourist town of Sauraha outside the park last September. The tiger was placed in a secure enclosure at the park's headquarters for treatment where it recovered completely. On Friday, a team of wildlife veterinarians, biologists, park staff and conservationists tranquilized the tiger and fitted it with a GPS plus GLOBALSTAR-3 satellite collar. It was transported by road more than 370 miles in a specially constructed trailer from Chitwan National Park to Bardia National Park. Today, the tiger was introduced to its new home in the fertile Babai River valley.

"The Babai valley was an ideal location for the translocation because of its vast size and available prey species, improved anti-poaching efforts, lower human-tiger conflict and good connectivity with other protected areas through the Terai Arc Landscape all the way to India’s Suhelwa Wildlife Sanctuary," said Krishna Acharya, Director General of Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. "Nepal is one of the countries in the world where the prospect of doubling the tiger population is quite good, if tigers are given enough space, prey and proper protection."

The satellite collar, which accurately reports the tiger's location every 30 minutes, will help scientists gain a better understanding of tiger behavior, improve conservation interventions like anti-poaching operations and monitor the tiger adapting to its new environment.

"WWF is pleased to have played a part in the pioneering tiger translocation led by the Government of Nepal," said Anil Manandhar, WWF-Nepal's Country Representative. "As a global conservation organization, we have been part of the Nepal's evolving conservation landscape—from species protection to the successful Terai Arc Landscape—for over four decades, and remain committed to working together with our partners to help save nature for future generations."

"Today's successful translocation is a testament to the skill and expertise of Nepal's conservation community," said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF-US, who participated in the operation. "To see this majestic beast released into his new home gives me hope that tigers -- in Nepal and throughout Asia — can have a bright future."

For more information: http://www.worldwildlife.org/species/finder/tigers/index.html

photo: The wild tiger after it was tranquilized for collaring at Chitwan National Park, Nepal.

Credit: WWF Nepal / Min Bajracharya

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