round 1850 about 100,000 tigers roamed the forests and grasslands of Asia. Large-scale deforestation, habitat fragmentation and poaching are the main causes of the dramatic decline of the tiger. Today only a fraction (7%) of their former territory is left.
In 2010 approximately 150 Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) lived in the Terai, a lowland zone of semi-tropical forests and grasslands on the border between Nepal and India. During the Global Tiger Initiative in St. Petersburg in 2010, all ‘tiger countries’ – including Nepal – signed an agreement to double the number of tigers by 2022.
Thanks to a sharp decline, poaching now seems to be under control in Nepal – a great achievement indeed! It means that one of the main causes of tiger depletion has now been properly addressed. But even if poaching rates are kept low, the conservation of the tiger is still a challenge to be met. In the 21st century, tiger populations are confined to small and isolated patches of land. A substantial expansion of tiger habitat in the period up to 2022 does not seem realistic. Population growth in southern Nepal is simply too high and innovation in the agricultural sector too minor to abandon subsistence farming and free up land for wildlife.