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Wild tigers of Bhutan on the rise

Bhutan is one of the priority hotspots for tiger conservation and a small country located between India and China in the Eastern Himalayas. The country is mountainous with nearly 95% of its land area located more than 600 m above sea level. More than 95% of Bhutan remains vegetated, 70% of which constitutes natural forest cover.

The Tiger (Panthera tigris) has suffered a catastrophic decline in numbers in all countries within its range, so that, today, there are probably no more than 3,800 animals of the eight races remaining in the wild. Although, in certain countries, the Tiger is given protection, in others it is still under heavy persecution. Surviving populations are now too scattered to maintain a viable genetic interchange. The chief cause of the decline has been the massive destruction of forests in Asia, but unrestricted hunting and poisoning and the demand for skins by the fur trade have also been important factors. Despite almost 5 decades of global conservation efforts, tigers continue to be threatened with extinction. Human impacts on the natural environment have reduced the tiger's historical range to only 7%.

Bhutan is now home to 103 tigers and maybe more. Tiger conservation success in Bhutan is the result of contiguous preserved forest habitat, numerous prey species available, low human density, strong conservation leadership at the government level, and religious positive sentiments of the Bhutanese people. Tigers in Bhutan can be found at a broad elevational range, starting from as low as 100 meters in the south to over 4000 meters in the north moving across large regions of the country.

Photograph on the right: Emmanuel Rondeau

High altitude natural landscapes are important parts of the natural habitat of the tiger in the Himalayan region. Tigers are breeding in these high altitudes, presumably due to the optimal availability of prey and less infringement by human activities. The highlands may also serve as natural corridors for tigers and other large mammals while traversing between more suitable habitats.

Bhutan is paving the way for successful tiger conservation, however, our support is crucial in providing sustainable help in many conservation areas including technical and scientific support, and helping local communities to balance conservation priorities with their livelihood. The current biggest challenge in Bhutan Tiger conservation effort is to sustain adequate and sustainable resources. Your help is needed more than ever.

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