As tiger numbers in Nepal and India grow, their freedom to roam shrinks

As tiger numbers in Nepal and India grow, their freedom to roam shrinks

KATHMANDU/NEW DELHI — Media outlets in Nepal were abuzz recently with reports that the country’s iconic Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris), on whose protection the government and various NGOs lavish huge sums of money every year, were moving to India in search of better habitats.

The story resonated with the public, in a country where thousands of Nepalis cross the open border daily into the southern neighbor in search of better jobs and incomes .

“As India is doing a better job at managing its tiger habitats, Nepali tigers are crossing the border to move to greener pastures,” one media report said.

Following the reports, Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Reserves said it was preparing plans to encourage “Nepali” wild animals to stay in Nepal.

The episode highlights one of the key human-induced challenges facing efforts to conserve the Bengal tiger population in its joint stronghold of Nepal and India : “animal nationalism,” or the belief that certain wildlife belong to a particular country.

Lead Image: A Bengal tiger checks out the conditions before getting into the canal at Sundarban Tiger Reserve, West Bengal, India. Photo by: Soumyajit Nandy / Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International.

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