Nepal’s Key Habitat Could Lose 39% of its Tigers in 20 Years

Environmental News from Nepal: 

  • Nearly two-fifths of adult tigers in Nepal’s Chitwan National Park could be killed over the next 20 years as a result of vehicle strikes on the roads near the park, a new study says.
  • The projection is based on tiger movement data going back to the 1970s, and shows that the addition of a proposed railway line would result in an additional 30 tiger deaths.
  • Chitwan is home to 133 tigers, and the large number of projected losses would be devastating to the population, which is already increasingly cut off from its range in neighboring India as a result of human-made obstacles, including roads.
  • The study authors say this worst-case scenario should be a wake-up call to authorities to plan infrastructure projects with wildlife mobility as a key concern.

KATHMANDU — Roads that run close to an important national park in Nepal’s southern plains could result in an increased rate of roadkill that would cut the park’s population of adult tigers by nearly two-fifths over two decades, a new study shows.

The study forecasts that 46 Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) could be killed on the roads near Chitwan National Park, bringing the adult population down from 133 at present to 81 in 20 years. Another 30 tigers could be killed in the same period if a proposed railway line in the area is built, according to the study, which modeled its projections using tiger movement data collected in Chitwan since the 1970s.

“The mortality associated with increased traffic volumes and expansions of the roads and railway would have cascading negative consequences on population viability in the long term,” study lead author Neil Carter, from the University of Michigan, told Mongabay.

As the tiger population in Chitwan is relatively small compared to those in other habitats across the Indian subcontinent, this reduction of 39% could make them more vulnerable to diseases or inbreeding, Carter said. That would increase their risk of going locally extinction.

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Source: Mongabay

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