Mood swings in camera traps?

Assessing detection sensitivity in Bardyia National Park.

Since early summer of 2019, a network of 50 camera traps has been installed in the western region of Bardyia National Park. Similar to comparable investigations in natural areas across the world, the cameras are placed in regular grid, 1.5 km apart. Through the camera network, all large wildlife is monitored continuously. Until now, more than 10,000 detections of species ranging from deer to elephant, and from otter to tiger have been collected.

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Crouching tiger, hidden groundwater

Groundwater is impossible to see but it plays an important role as abiotic factor for plants. Even more so for wetlands where the groundwater table is shallow. These wetlands play an important role in the conservation of the tiger in the nature reserves in the Nepalese and Indian Terai. More than a quarter of all the wild tigers are found in nature reserves along the Terai which is the zone at the foot of the Himalaya mountain range. Here, wetlands are found in the floodplains of rivers and usually covered by grass. This is where the tiger preferentially hunts for deer as their prey. Other grasslands may be further away from the river where they are usually the succession of abandoned agricultural fields.

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Tiger conservation in COVID times

The COVID lockdown both in Nepal and the Netherlands has meant no travelling between the two countries which is why we were not in Nepal this spring. The board of the Himalayan Tiger Foundation (HTF) is, however, in almost daily contact with all our tiger conservation partners in Nepal, in particular the National Trust for Wildlife Conservation (NTNC), and in the Netherlands, through video conferences, skype meetings, phone calls and emails.  

First, we are happy to inform you that all our Nepali and Dutch friends participating in our tiger conservation research programme are still in good health and able to continue their work.

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Artificial snow leopards installed in Naar Valley

From 1 to 19 October last an expedition took place to Naar Valley, located in the Annapurna Conservation Area close to the Northen border of Nepal. This valley runs almost East-West from Phu (4.080 m) via the Sartek Thrangu Choepel Ling Gompa (monastry, 3.500 m) to the Kang La pass (5.400 m).

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Food for tigers

With the growing number of tigers inhabiting Bardiya National Park (BNP) an increasingly relevant question is how much ‘food’ these tigers need. In other words: does BNP have a sufficient prey base to sustain the tiger population currently, and in the future?

The PhD research of Shyam Thapa focusses on generating a better understanding of grasslands within the context of BNP. These grasslands are maintained by grazing herbivores that in turn also serve as important food supply. The missing link between grass and tiger is the population of species that are dependent on grasslands and prey for tiger, consisting of species such as spotted deer (Axis axis), sambar deer (Rusa unicolor) and wild boar (Sus scrofa).

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No water, no tiger.

The relationship between the tigers, the deer as most important prey animals, the grasslands and the groundwater table of Bardiya National Park (BNP) is a complicated and vulnerable one. Shortly, major changes will take place in the river systems providing BNP with water. What effects these changes will have on the ecosystem of BNP is, however, unknown. Therefore the National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), BNP park management and HTF want to have a better understanding of the hydrology of the Karnali and Babai rivers.

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In search of the Mountain Ghost

Snow leopard (Panthere unica) is a close family member of tiger (Panthera tigris). Although HTF is mainly focussing on the 2xT programme, NTNC has asked us to support specific research on the snow leopard as well.
Ashok Subedi, one of NTNC’s conservation officers, is working on the ‘mountain ghost’. 
From 1 to 18 October 2018, the Nar-Phu valley of Manang was visited to see whether this area is suitable for research on snow leopard. See:

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On the ecology of rivers: insects and plants

Dramatic interventions are taking place in the river system that provides Bardiya National Park with water. A new water intake is being built in the Karnali River on the western border of the park. Soon large quantities of water will be withdrawn from this river for the irrigation of the area immediately west of the park. Recently, the Bheri-Babai Multipurpose Diversion Project (BBMDP) has started to generate hydro power and to provide more irrigation water to the area south of the park. At the northern border of the park a tunnel is being drilled through which water from the Bheri River will be transported to the Babai River. ( See: and ).

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