18 May 2020
Conservation Story 11: Trailing Tigers to New Heights
A survey carried out by the Terai Arc Landscape (TAL) Program in 2017 confirmed the presence of an individual tiger in lower elevations (487m) of Dadeldhura district. Although tigers have been documented as high as 4,000 meters in Bhutan, for the very first time, Nepal captured images of a tiger at 2,500 meters elevation. Until now, Nepal’s known tiger distribution was limited to the Terai Arc Landscape but conservation instincts and preliminary research have always pointed to viable north-south connectivity in Nepal. The new evidence widens Nepal’s potential tiger habitats within the country as well as opportunities for more transboundary linkages.
Tigers are a highly adaptive species with their range spanning from sea levels and mangrove ecosystems to forests in plains, highlands, rain-forests, arid, semi-arid and mountainous regions. If well protected, and abundance of prey and contiguous habitats are available, tigers can survive in all habitat types including forests in higher altitudes; as confirmed by studies in Bhutan and India. A study led by the Global Tiger Forum in tiger range countries such as Nepal, Bhutan and India in 2019, identified 2213 sq.km as potential high altitude tiger habitat in Nepal.
This first ever recorded evidence of a tiger at 2500m in Nepal supports the notion that high altitude habitats may provide refuge for tigers and corridor linkage services for their dispersal between Nepal and India. This evidence also opens new avenues for further research in understanding the reasons behind the tiger’s use of such high altitude habitats.
Consequently, this evidence could be a starting point for strengthening transboundary conservation interventions in the region, providing a safe dispersal pathway between protected areas for tigers going ahead, thereby increasing the viability and survival of tigers in the long run.
Click here and read behind the scene journey of the Nepal team to discovering their first documented high altitude tiger.