Transcending Borders for Tiger Recovery in Nepal
The Terai Arc landscape stretches 700 km across fertile lowlands at the foot of the Himalayas along the border between Nepal and India. The ecoregion is characterized by grasslands, savannah, wetlands, and riverine landscapes, and is home to a great variety of species. With over 880 tigers, there is no place on earth where there are more tigers than in the Terai Arc landscape. Nepal and India have been able to almost double their numbers in recent years, an incredible success!
However, tigers are still threatened by an increase in poaching, habitat loss, degradation, and human tiger conflict. As part of the Terai Arc Landscape, the Chitwan-Parsa-Valmiki complex connects Chitwan and Parsa National Park in Nepal, with the Valmiki Tiger Reserve in India. The forested complex is a priority landscape for tiger work and project area of WWF under the Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme (ITHCP). It is home to approximately 141 tigers, 700 rhinoceros, and over 50 migrating elephants.
The connectivity between the three protected areas is a key factor contributing towards the persistence and dispersal of tigers, rhinoceros, and elephants. The Shikaribas corridor lies in the Southern part of the complex connecting all three protected areas. Assessments in Shikaribas showed drastic loss in forest cover between 2001 and 2015, due to heavy demand for fuelwood from communities. As with other corridors, forest encroachment has been a significant issue, with areas being cleared for agricultural practices, risking the loss of strategic connectivity. Additionally, prolonged dry spells, poaching and expansion of the Postal Highway continue to put pressure on the corridor and species.
Comprehensive conservation actions in the corridor and beyond were made possible through an ITHCP project which WWF Nepal and WWF India in collaboration with WWF Germany jointly executed in the complex (2016 - 2020). This alliance has been the first of its kind in the landscape, supporting corridor restoration, protection of wildlife, mitigation of human-wildlife interface and controlling illegal activities.
This collaboration is now being continued in the ITHCP Phase II Project (2021-2023) building on the first phase with a special focus on strengthening community engagement and support. Communities are the driving force in managing buffer zones and key corridors. Direct benefits will include implementation of preventive and curative measures for human wildlife conflict among most affected households. The project also provides alternative livelihood development options to communities to reduce pressure on natural forests, while ensuring their wellbeing.
This project is supported by IUCN’s Integrated Tiger Habitat Conservation Programme, funded by the German Cooperation via KfW Development Bank. The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of WWF and do not necessarily reflect the views of IUCN, the German Cooperation or KfW.