The once malaria-infested Nepalese Terai, the sub-tropical zone at the northern edge of the Ganga Plain, is the land of the Tharu’s. These original inhabitants were immune to this disease. The Terai also was the playground of the Nepalese Maharaja’s. In the past the descendants of Jang Bahadur Rana organized big hunting parties in which dozens of tigers were killed.
In 1988 Bardiya received the official status of National Park and the nearby Banke National Park was added as protected natural wildlife resource in 2010. The Nepal Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) and the Nepal National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC) manage the wildlife in the National Parks.
2xT Research Support Program
The focus of the Himalayan Tiger Foundation is to initiate and support wildlife management-oriented studies by young talented Nepalese managers and biologists of DNPWC, NTNC and Kathmandu University.
In the period 2014 – 2022 eight PhD-studies will be carried out to support the Government of Nepal’s policy to double the number of tigers by 2022.
Although the focus is mainly on Bardiya National Park, the outcome of these studies can be applied more broadly. Five of these studies will be supervised by Prof. dr. Herbert Prins, Chair Resource Ecology, Wageningen University & Research (WUR), the Netherlands.
How to mitigate the Human Wildlife Conflict? (2 PhD-studies)
Agricultural development and urbanization in the buffer zones sometimes causes conflicts by wild animals leaving the parks. To sustain general acceptance of wildlife conservation by the local communities, it is essential that mitigation of these conflicts can be achieved in the short run. Both in Chitwan and in Bardiya National Parks these conflicts are being studied.
Subodh Upadhyaya (Kathmandu University) is working in Bardiya under supervision of prof. dr. Gerard de Snoo and Prof. dr. Hans de Iongh (both University of Leiden, the Netherlands).
Babu Ram Lamichhana (NTNC) is doling his fieldwork in Chitwan under supervision of prof. dr. Peter van Bodegom (University of Antwerp, Belgium) and Prof. dr. Hans de Iongh (University of Leiden, the Netherlands). Status: on-going (2014-2018).
Can we double the number of tigers by doubling deer numbers in Bardiya National Park?
What are the requirements of the deer populations to increase in numbers and – so – ‘generate’ enough animals as prey for the tigers? Experiments will be carried out to create better en bigger ‘grazing lawns’ for deer. More deer, more food for tigers, so to speak.
Since September 2016 Shyam Thapa (NTNC) carries out this PhD-study under supervision of Prof. dr. Herbert Prins (WUR, the Netherlands). Status: on-going (2016 – 2020).
Is the tiger population growing again in Bardiya National park?
For the assessment of the effects of management measures accurate monitoring of the numbers of tiger in the wildlife resources is necessary. This is the aim of this project. It is extremely difficult to count tigers reliably, therefore camera traps, and the most up-to-date software will be used to identify individual tigers. The study will be carried out under supervision of Prof. dr. Herbert Prins (WUR, the Netherlands). Status: selection of PhD-candidate in process (2018-2022).
Can we make Banke National Park into a tiger haven too?
Doubling the number of tigers requires more suitable habitat for wildlife species such as deer. Recently the Banke National Park was established. The park is connected with Bardiya National Park. However, the Banke natural resource requires a substantial transformation (alternative fire management, improvement of of water supply) before it is good enough as habitat for deer. A particular focus of the study is the National Highway passing through the park which causes traffic accidents with wildlife. This study will be carried out under supervision of Prof. dr. Herbert Prins (WUR, the Netherlands). Status: selection of PhD-candidate in process (2017-2021).
How and why was tiger habitat lost in South Nepal?
The Nepal National Parks are situated amidst areas used by the local population for agricultural purposes. Parts of the parks were formerly used to harvest wood and grass and as feeding grounds for the cattle. For the increase of wildlife in the parks protection of flood plains and forests is required. Therefore a better understanding of the land use at present and in the past is necessary. By analysing satellite images Nepal’s deforestation and changes in the floodplain over the last 50 years will be mapped. This study will be carried out under supervision of Prof. dr. Herbert Prins (WUR, the Netherlands). Status: selection of PhD-candidate in process (2017-2021).
What is the effect of re-introducing mega-herbivores (such as rhino’s) on the rehabilitation of the tiger habitat?
Recently NTNC has embarked on a program of translocating 25 rhinos from Chitwan to Bardiya. The post performance of the translocated rhinos (establishment process; ranging and dispersal pattern; behavioral ecology in the new environment including the corridor use and trans-boundary movement) will be studied using both on-ground VHF tracking and GPS/satellite telemetry. This study will be carried out under supervision of Prof. dr. Herbert Prins (WUR, the Netherlands). Status: selection of PhD-candidate in process (2017-2021).
Is there an alternative for the annual burning of the savannahs?
The grasslands in the parks are currently maintained by yearly (illegal) harvesting and burning. Grazing by deer is only possible in a short period after burning. In order to get a better understanding of fire regimes and burning dynamics this will be studied in the dry monsoon forests of Bardiya National Park and the riverine grasslands along the Karnali and Babai rivers. This study will be carried out under supervision of Prof. dr. Herbert Prins (WUR, the Netherlands). Status: selection of PhD-candidate to be started (2018-2022).
2xT Action Support Program
Along the research projects, the Himalayan Tiger Foundation initiates actions to support local communities in de buffer zones surrounding the park in dealing with wildlife conservation.
- The development and establishment of an effective electric fence against elephant to mitigate damage of crops, stock, houses and people.
- The development of a community based mutual crop and stock insurance scheme against wildlife damage.
- Development of an early warning system to identify wild elephant timely.
- Implementation of an Traffic Track System along the National Highway crossing Bardiya National Park to limit traffic speed and hence the number of wildlife traffic accidents.