Nepal's Chitwan National Park has beaten out all other tiger sanctuaries in the world to be become the first to be accredited by the new Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS).
Located in the subtropical inner Terai lowlands of south-central Nepal, the park earned the accreditation from the Tigers Alive Initiative (TAI) of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). To qualify, tiger conservation areas must meet a set of 17 standards. Chitwan National Park met them all, and is considered a well-managed, protected and effective refuge for tigers.
Ujjwal Acharya, a journalist and social media enthusiast, tweeted:
The @WWF accredits Nepal's Chitwan National Park as the first global site as Conservation Assured Tiger Standard!
— Ujjwal Acharya (@UjjwalAcharya) February 6, 2015
Ramesh Nath Pandey, a former foreign minister, wrote:
YeGood news. Chitwan National Park recognised as best conservation for Tigers.Govt should reward CNP for giving good name to Nepal
— ramesh nath pandey (@rameshnathpande) February 7, 2015
Barney Long, an Asian species expert with a passion for saola, rhinos and carnivores, tweeted:
Chitwan National Park becomes the first park to get CA|TS accreditation. Huge achievement @TigersAlive @mikebaltzer pic.twitter.com/h7vw1T5mmQ
— Barney Long (@Barney_Long) February 6, 2015
Tigers are an endangered species, with only a few thousand left in the world, according to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Chitwan National Park, which was established in 1973, boasts of having largest number of tigers in Nepal, with 120 tigers out of the 198 tigers in the country. The national park is also home to the world’s second largest population of one-horned rhinos, with 503 out of 534 individuals in Nepal.
Nepal achieved zero poaching for the year 2011 for rhinos and for 12 months ending February 2014 for rhinos, tigers and elephants. With tiger numbers growing by 63 per cent as per the 2013 census, the Chitwan National Park became the most successful park in conserving tigers.
The rise in the number of tigers is a good boost to the government’s target of doubling the tiger population by 2022.
Dr. Bishnu Hari Nepal, a former ambassador to Japan, tweeted:
#ZeroPoachingYear2014/o #Nepal brings #ChitwanNationalPark/w 534-#rhinos & 198 #tigers-1st/best #ConservationAward in 2015! BW&Congrats!#CAT
— Dr.Bishnu Hari Nepal (@drbishnuhnepal) February 7, 2015
Akash Thapa, an expatriate Nepali living in New York tweeted:
A visit to Chitwan National Park made it clear that I wanted to be a Wildlife Biologist/Conservationist #memories pic.twitter.com/k2ANLUDRH8
— akash thapa (@aaki2005) February 4, 2015
Not a single tiger was killed in Nepal in the last three years. However, the illegal wildlife trade has not stopped. News of poachers and traders being arrested with tiger skins and bones have not stopped in spite of the authorities claiming zero poaching.
Saurav Dhakal, a social entrepreneur and former journalist, tweeted:
@DeepakAdk @kanchanojha बाघ मारेकाे त पत्तै हुन्न । नङ देखी टाउकाे सम्म काम लाग्छ । थाहा हुने त गैडा हाे गैडा । #Zeropoaching #Nepal
— Saurav Dhakal (@DhakalSaurav) February 3, 2015
It’s not traceable when a tiger is killed. From fingernails to head is useful. It’s rhino [poaching] which gets traced. #Zeropoaching #Nepal
Asian species expert Barney Long Tweeted:
Nepal army conducts a minimum of 182 patrols per day in Chitwan National Park! #zeropoaching in action. @TigersAlive @mikebaltzer
— Barney Long (@Barney_Long) February 3, 2015
When a rhino is poached, the poachers hack off the horn and sometimes the hooves, but leave behind the body. However, the case of a tiger is different. Each and every part of the carcass is traded. The poachers don’t leave even a single trace of the hunt – be it skin, toes, nail, bones or meat – and everything is sold at high prices.
While the whole nation and the conservationists are overjoyed with the feat achieved by Nepal, the concerned authorities should leave no room for complacency. In May 2014, the Chitwan National Park officials and Nepal army personnel found a dead de-horned rhino only few weeks after the Nepal celebrated the second consecutive Zero Poaching Year.
Even though Nepal police was successful in bringing the most notorious rhino poacher, Raj Kumar Praja, suspected of killing over 30 rhinos, from Malaysia, petty smugglers and traders are still carrying on with the lucrative illegal trade.
The bright side is that Nepal's zero poaching has inspired the tiger range countries Bhutan, Russia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, India and Vietnam attending the Symposium on Towards Zero Poaching in Asia to join the effort to save the magnificent creature from poaching.
TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, tweeted:
#NEPAL Zero Poaching Symposium ends with accord on 5 key ways to tackle poaching http://t.co/hu8eSQ55Sv pic.twitter.com/7l7ZBZVz8R
— TRAFFIC (@TRAFFIC_WLTrade) February 6, 2015
The five recommendations from the symposium, if implemented well, will lead to zero poaching in Asia.
While the world has a lot to learn from how Nepal got zero poaching, the CA|TS accreditation for Chitwan National Park is an inspiration to all – to save the royal Bengal tigers and all other tiger species from extinction.