A proposal to extend a Nepali nature reserve by nearly 130 square kilometres has been approved, potentially providing crucial new habitat for tigers in the area.
The Nepali cabinet approved the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC) proposal to extend the Parsa Wildlife Reserve (PWR) to include Bara forests, increasing the total area of the reserve to more than 400 square kilometres.
ZSL has been monitoring tigers in PWR since last year and has been calling for the inclusion of Bara forests in the reserve since work began there. Potentially an additional 20 adult tigers could inhabit the area following extension of the reserve, which will connect tigers to hill corridors in the north via the Churia/Siwalilk Hills. This would raise the reserve population to more than 40 adult tigers in total.
The extension will also enable animals to move between the PWR and Halkhoriya Daha, the largest natural lake in the Narayani zone, regarded as a lifeline for species such as the threatened greater one-horned rhinoceros.
The total area of potential habitat (including ‘buffer zones’: land around the protected areas which acts as migrating corridors for species such as elephants, tigers and rhinos) could amount to more than 2,500 square kilometres.
Mr Tika Ram Adhikari, Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation (DNPWC), said:
"With the current extension of Parsa, Nepal has taken a great stride to include one of the last remaining high quality tiger habitats within the protected area network. We must conserve our natural heritage when it is still in a living condition, before it reaches the point of no-return."
Hem Baral, ZSL country manager for Nepal, said:
"As a conservationist, it’s a joy to see more space being allocated for wildlife. Having advocated the extension of this reserve for some time, we are delighted that the Nepali cabinet has granted us permission to protect more wildlife in this area.
"The addition to the reserve will allow more space for the native tigers to inhabit and potentially breed, while our conservationists at ZSL will continue to monitor tigers in the area to better understand how to protect them from threats and aid the survival of the species."