In the last 100 years, we have lost over 97% of all wild tigers to indiscriminate poaching, habitat loss and human-wildlife conflict. The tiger population in 1913 was estimated to be about 100,000, which is now drastically reduced to only about 3,200 tigers in only 13 countries*. Bhutan is one of these fortunate countries where this magnificent animal can still be found roaming the forests all the way from the warm southern regions to the cold alpine forests. This great fortune of our nation was bestowed upon the present and future generations by our visionary Monarchs, who continue to symbolize the epitome of Conservation leadership for Bhutan and the Global community.
July 29 is observed as the International Tiger Day with the objective to raise awareness and garner public support for global tiger conservation. For Bhutan, we have identified “The Need to Count”, as our national theme to highlight the importance of determining tiger population so that we can design and implement effective interventions. To achieve this objective, the Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS), MoAF, with financial and technical support from the World Bank and WWF launched the first ever nationwide tiger population survey in February 2014.
The survey results will provide important information on the population density of tigers, their distribution pattern and habitat status in the country. Local people’s perception and knowledge of tigers which are considered useful for tiger conservation are also being documented to mitigate human wildlife conflicts
It is also the first-ever survey solely conducted by a team of Bhutanese professionals, which not only demonstrates our national capacity but the commitment to carry out such a mammoth scientific exploration.
We need to ensure that this magnificent animal not only survive but thrive in our forests because they are not only ecologically significant but are important cultural and religious symbols of Bhutan. Ecologically, it stands at the top of the food chain, and its presence in the forest symbolizes the well-being of other species. For all these reasons, the survival of the tiger is vital for the healthy co-existence of every Bhutanese and nature, a unique harmony, that defines the essence of our GNH philosophy.
This is our opportunity to save wild tigers and the ecological riches they and the landscapes they inhabit represent. Despite serious loss, Bhutan is fortunate to have extensive forest areas with over 51 percent of the country identified as protected areas with well-connected biological corridors.
To further control poaching and illicit trading the DoFPSare continuing to strengthen the regulatory frameworks and enhancing the scientific and socio economic understanding of the dynamics of Tiger conservation and management.
With continued efforts from the government,global partners and the communities, we are confident that we will not only ensure that our tigers survive but continue to thrive so that our children and grandchildren will see them as real living legends and not in history books or as wall paintings. As custodians of our environmental heritage, we must all come together to protect and cherish the amazing natural wonders of our nation.
Ministry of Agriculture and Forests,
Royal Government of Bhutan
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