Written by Rabya Bhatia, GivingWay Ambassador. Rabya has previously undertaken a Bachelor of Psychological Sciences and is currently completing a Masters in Social Work. She has a proficiency in working with culturally and linguistically diverse individuals and is currently working within the disability and special needs sector. She has experience volunteering with different organizations and has a passion for environmental sustainability and human and animal justice. You can find her on LinkedIn.
Did you know that Nepal has achieved zero poaching for 365 days four times in recent years? That is quite a praiseworthy achievement in a world where approximately 30,000 species are driven to extinction every year. In fact, Nepal’s leaders are committed to conserving the biodiversity of their land, distributing over 28% of the country’s forests to local communities to manage, thereby saving forests, wildlife and reducing poverty. And when it comes to tigers, Nepal is committed to doubling its numbers by 2022.
With less than 3,200 tigers left in 2010, 95% less than a century ago, this goal is crucial. The primary causes of tiger deaths are deforestation, increasing human development, human-tiger conflict and sadly, poaching. Increasing demand in Asia has caused prices for the skins and body parts of tigers to soar. Nothing is left behind, as each part has sale value. The same may happen to this entire species if we don’t step up. Nothing will be left behind.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, Nepal government’s wildlife authorities have despairingly observed an increase in illegal poaching and wildlife trading. Aside from appealing to the public to report suspicious behaviors, the Park authorities need as much support as they can receive for front-line anti-poaching personnel to patrol, train, and raise awareness and share information.
Hearing and comprehending this can be quite harrowing, so I apologize to my readers. However, this is nothing compared to the torment that the beautiful creatures of this earth go through. Having the choice to ignore this makes me feel both wildly aware of my privilege and also seemingly useless in stopping such violent acts of greed. Yet, this is not true. Albeit we cannot stop such cruelty first-hand, but by recognizing its existence and acknowledging and supporting like-minded peoples who are able to be on the front line of this essential work, we can be a part of the change. An animal or a tiger’s life might not mean much to many people on this planet, as the human ethos is distinctly selfish. To appeal to this natural egocentricity, I can tell you that such poaching does and will affect each human individual if we do not rise and put a stop to it. Now.
If we continue to remain ignorant to this horror, soon our connection with the planet’s ecosystem will be unsettled. And then, biodiversity will vanish. Without that, our food, water, oxygen; everything crucial for survival will be at risk. In summary, by driving wildlife species to extinction, we reduce the biodiversity of our planet, and if this continues, we cannot expect nature to keep providing for us the way it does. And so, I plea for your support to the organizations fighting this travesty for us, especially at this crucial time.
The Nepal Tiger Trust is an NGO dedicated to the conservation of tigers through community-based actions. Their Participatory Anti-poaching project utilizes a community-based approach to support park management and security personnel. They need your help. Today I had the opportunity to interview one of their inspiring founders, Bhim Gurung.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you came to be in your current role?
I am Bhim Gurung, Co-founder and Executive Director of Nepal Tiger Trust. I am a passionate tiger conservationist. In Nepal, for more than three decades, I have been involved in different tiger monitoring projects to understand their behavior, movement pattern, life histories, and population structures. Understanding the basic needs of tigers such as habitat requirements, prey abundance, population status is critical for their long-term survival. Additionally, poaching and human-tiger conflict has also become a challenging task for the wildlife managers to save guarding this magnificent animal in the wild. Therefore, we established Nepal Tiger Trust in 2010 with the goal of protecting wild tigers forever in Nepal by long-term tiger monitoring, supporting anti-poaching activities, mitigating human-tiger conflicts by working together with the park management, local communities, and other organizations.
A wild tiger monitored by Nepal Tiger Trusts
What would you say is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
The best reward to me is the development of long-term friendships with my team members which includes tiger technicians, trackers, supporters, and individual tigers themselves. Knowing the survival of individual resident tigers year after year and learning about their life histories has been the best fulfilling experience for me. From tigers, I have learned to be focused, resilient, and respectful to the surrounding environment.
How do you define success?
To us, success is when the tiger habitat maintains the full carrying capacity of resident male and female tigers. Furthermore, we feel happy when the female tigers have a higher reproductive success rate. That is to say when female tigers successfully raised the higher number of cubs in each letter up to the age of dispersal, which is approximately two years of age. Overall, we have been successful in maintaining the stable tiger population in Chitwan National Park for a long time.
What is most challenging about your job?
The most challenging task for us is how to mitigate human-tiger conflict and stop poaching. A single poaching of a breeding female can have a devastating effect on the tiger population. If the female with small cubs is killed by poachers, cubs die too. Likewise, it is challenging to get the support of local people when on occasions tiger kills livestock or human.
What keeps you most motivated in your role?
These days I don’t get much time to go tiger tracking or camera trapping, but I get to see the tiger’s photos from our camera trapping team each year and field reports. Seeing the recent tigers’ photos and understanding the status of the population, makes me motivated and continue to protect this magnificent animal.
To learn more about Bhim Gurung’s work and support his work for tigers in Nepal, visit Nepal Tiger Trust’s GivingWay profile.
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