The NEPAL TIGER PROJECT began in April 2011 when founder John Brooks, a retired federal agent and wildlife biologist, traveled to Nepal with Anna Bach, a practitioner of Tibetan medicine, to support her in the effort to locate some specimen of a tree locally known as the Arura tree. Anna had also mentioned to John Brooks that, contrary to the assessment of established conservation groups, villagers of the area claimed that tigers were present in the region. John and Anna, accompanied by local Sherpa guides, walked two days from a remote bus stop into the Okhaldhunga District of Nepal’s Himalaya mountain range. Indeed, while local villagers had not recently seen tigers, they described significant evidence that the reclusive predators had been in the area during the previous two years. Two nights after John and Anna arrived in the area, a villager reported that a tiger attacked and killed her newborn calf. Although this was a sad event for the woman and her family, it was a great gift to know a wild tiger population may still exist within the area.
In the fall of 2012, John returned to Nepal with the goal of confirming the presence of tigers in the Okhaldhunga District. Villagers were interviewed, camera “traps” were placed, and scat samples and paw prints were documented. The evidence collected offered a strong case for the presence of tigers in the area. John and his team were also able to photographically document the presence of the endangered Indian leopards but no tigers were spotted. Although the tigers eluded the camera traps, the team was very excited to record eyewitness accounts of their presence and look forward to returning on location to obtain conclusive proof of a newly discovered tiger population. As one villager put it: “The tiger can see you and will show himself when he is ready.” John believes that capturing the tiger on camera is just a matter of time and persistence.
The Nepal Tiger Project continued looking for signs in 2013 during the month of September. The rains were too frequent and did not allow the team to track the moment of large cats. In addition, the presence of the Asiatic black bear in the area made it difficult to move quietly through the jungle.
With less than 230 tigers known to exist in Nepal and less than 3,300 worldwide, The Nepal Tiger Project is a worth while venture. In addition, the Project will be working with the local villagers and schools to educate them on conservation of wildlife in the area and assist them with techniques for living with an established population of predatory cats. Among the many villagers contacted in 2012 and 2013, the response to the program was overwhelmingly positive.
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