Kathmandu (AFP) -Nepal’s success in turning tiger-fearing villagers into their protectors has seen none of the endangered cats killed for almost three years, offering key lessons for an anti-poaching summit opening in Kathmandu on Monday.
Experts from conservation group WWF, which is co-hosting the conference with Nepal’s government, said the Himalayan nation was a “tiger heavyweight” in the battle to fight poaching and protect them from extinction.
“Nepal and India are our tiger heavyweights leading the region. India excels at recovering tiger numbers and Nepal at zero poaching,” said Mike Baltzer of WWF Tigers Alive Initiative.
India in January reported a 30 percent jump in tiger numbers since 2010, while Nepal saw numbers rise almost two thirds between 2009 and 2013. Its last reported poaching incident was in March 2012.
Decades of trafficking and habitat destruction have slashed the global tiger population from 100,000 a century ago to approximately 3,000, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Tikaram Adhikari, director general of Nepal’s department of national parks and wildlife conservation, said an initiative to convince villagers to inform on poachers and pay them half of tourism revenues had paid huge dividends.
“Earlier, some villagers even protected poachers because they didn’t want tigers attacking them. We heard them out, built electric fences, focused on increasing tourism and gave them a big cut of the revenues,” Adhikari said.