Worldwide, many are drawn towards the magnificence of the tiger.
As the king of the jungle and an indicator species of the health of the ecosystem, the tiger is indeed a conservation icon.
There are an estimated 3,890 tigers in the wild at present, and countries that are home to this mega species are forging conservation efforts to double their numbers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger.
On Global Tiger Day, we shine a light on the people in Nepal and their actions in protecting this iconic species.
They are the people who work on the front lines and yet, behind the scenes, in the broader tiger conservation arena.
Introducing Nepal’s tiger protectors – Hari Rani, a member of the local community-based anti-poaching unit; Panna Ram, a citizen scientist; Lt. Col. Rajendra Pant, Battalion Commander of Bardia National Park; and Ramesh Thapa, Chief Warden of Bardia National Park.
"As the birth of a newborn brings joy to a community, so does the birth of a new life by nature."
Hari Rani Chaudhary, is a member of the community-based anti-poaching unit in Khata Corridor in Bardia in Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape.
Self-driven and passionate, Hari Rani has an innate belief in Nepal doubling its tiger numbers.
At 25 years of age, Hari Rani is a guardian of the tigers in this critical corridor that connects Nepal’s Bardia National Park with India’s Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary.
With her anti-poaching unit supported by WWF, she seeks to lead change in her community by empowering them with information on the importance of protecting tigers while keeping watch over poaching and wildlife crimes in her community forest.
"To know that tigers walk our forests, and that I am helping protect them is a matter of great pride."
Panna Ram Chaudhary is a citizen scientist in Khata Corridor in Bardia in Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape.
A member of the local community in Khata, Panna Ram has been actively engaged in conservation in this critical corridor that connects Nepal’s Bardia National Park with India’s Katerniaghat Wildlife Sanctuary.
Through the support of WWF, Panna Ram has trained to become a citizen scientist helping monitor tigers in this community forest.
From tiger monitoring surveys using camera traps that Panna Ram has been involved in, an estimated seven tigers have been identified in Khata Corridor.
He takes pride in this finding and attributes it to years of conservation commitment that the people of Khata have demonstrated to protect this iconic species, giving them the freedom to roam beyond borders.
"Regardless of the risk in our work, we need to keep working together to protect tigers."
Lt. Col. Rajendra Pant is the commander of the Rana Shardul Batallion in Bardia National Park in Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape.
As head of the protection unit in the country’s largest national park in the terai, Lt. Col. Pant has helped scale up the presence of his protection unit deployed in the park while being aided by new technologies to allow for a swift anti-poaching response.
Lt. Col. Pant, with the support of WWF, has effectively built stronger boots on the ground to safeguard tigers from the biggest threats of poaching and wildlife crime.
Tiger numbers have nearly tripled in Bardia National Park, from an estimated 18 in 2009 to an estimated 50 at present.
Lt. Col. Thapa is on a mission to protect tigers and help achieve zero poaching of the species, a goal that is together possible.
"Tigers are central to a healthy ecosystem; we are central to their survival and protection."
Ramesh Thapa is the Chief Warden of Bardia National Park.
Thapa has spent more than twenty years working for tigers and conservation, starting as a ranger and working his way up to Chief Warden in the largest national park in Nepal’s Terai Arc Landscape.
A core responsibility of Thapa is the management of the 932 square km of forest habitat including grasslands and waterholes that support a population of an estimated 50 tigers in the protected area.
Thapa feels that for a nation of about 30 million people, the tiger is Nepal’s identity. He believes that Nepal will, against all odds, achieve the goal of doubling its wild tiger numbers by 2022.