World Tiger Day: Nepal wants to save big cats from Chinese market
The species is still endangered even though its numbers are up. Poaching to meet demand from China remains the main threat. In Chinese culture, tiger meat has magical powers, and tiger parts go into local pharmacopeia and religious items.
Kathmandu (AsiaNews) – Nepal has marked World Tiger Day with several initiatives, events and awareness campaigns but also amid fears for the animal’s surviva, mainly because of poachers and Chinese culture.
Nepal’s tiger population has been growing in recent years, but the species is still at risk and protecting it remains a challenge.
“There are three different challenges for tiger conservation in Nepal,” said Maheshwor Dhakal, the Deputy Director at National Conservation. They are: managing adequate prey for tigers, controlling poaching and preserving jungle area.”
Animals living along the border with China were the most at risk. In Chinese culture, tiger meat is seen “as precious and sacred,” and “tiger parts are used for medicines and to purify religious objects.” Many Chinese are willing to pay higher prices for them.
“At present Nepal is successfully protecting its tigers from poachers. That was the largest challenge,” Dhakal explained.
In fact, Nepali authorities have made significant strides to counter this activity. “We successfully convinced China to raise awareness among its people that tigers should be preserved,” said Nepal’s Forestry and Wildlife Minister Agni Sapkota.
“Chinese traditional medicine started using other items instead of tiger parts, but the risk is still high. For this reason, Nepal has increased its security personnel in protected areas.”
The tiger is one of the most endangered species in the world, with less than 4,000 animals living in the wild (half in India).
In 2010, countries with tiger populations, including Vietnam, Russia, Thailand and Indonesia, met in St Petersburg, Russia, and agreed on a plan (TX2) to double their numbers by 2022.
A census carried out in 2013 found that Nepal had 298 tigers. Now that number should be higher. The next census is set for 2018.