“These stamps are a striking symbol that the people of the Eastern Himalayas are taking every opportunity to emphasize the importance of wild tigers, which have been part of the natural and cultural landscape of the region for millennia,” said Shubash Lohani, deputy director of the WWF Eastern Himalayas Program.
Stamps emblazoned with tiger images and “Save the Tiger” messages are used in the Eastern Himalayas to help raise awareness about the need to double tiger numbers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger. The stamps, created under the leadership of WWF and other entities, also help show the commitment of Nepal, Bhutan and India to protecting wild tigers.
WWF’s Year of the Tiger postage stamp was launched by Nepali Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal at a ceremony in Kathmandu in September 2010. The stamp, worth five Nepali rupees, displays the image of a Bengal tiger and the WWF logo.
“This tiger postage stamp reinforces Nepal’s commitment towards biodiversity conservation and showcases to the world Nepal’s leadership in the conservation of tigers and their habitat,” said Prime Minister Nepal.
Among Nepal’s achievements this year are working with China and India in fostering transboundary co-operation, declaration of the Banke National Park that extends protected tiger habitat and the establishment of a high level National Tiger Conservation Committee.
In February 2010, Bhutan unveiled a set of stamps to mark the beginning of the Lunar Tiger Year and highlight the importance of saving wild tigers. The stamps, which bear the slogan “Save the Tiger,” were developed by the Postal Corporation Ltd, in collaboration with WWF, the Nature Conservation Division, Department of Forest and Ministry of Agriculture. The tiger is a revered religious icon in Bhutan, where Guru Rinpoche is known for riding a tiger to reach Takstang, the famed tiger’s nest. It is also the only real animal among the Four Dignities of the Buddhist state religion that includes the dragon, the garuda and the snow lion.
“If we don’t act now and put in place measures, the tigers may only live in pictures,” said Minister of Agriculture Lyonpo (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho. “Tiger protection is the key to conservation because, when you have tigers, it indicates that the forest is in good condition.”
India’s Project Tiger stamp, created in 1983, features a Bengal tiger. The stamp, which is now valued at two Indian rupees, was created to commemorate the 10th year of Project Tiger. Tiger numbers in India were crashing in the late 1970s. In response, WWF launched Operation Tiger, committing $1 million for emergency action. WWF engaged then-Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi behind this immense effort. This led to the Indian government launching Project Tiger and establishing a high-level Tiger Task Force to rebuild tiger populations.
By 1979, the campaign had expanded to 11 tiger reserves, with four more added later. The effort quickly showed positive results. Later tiger censuses showed the population had increased. The current population is estimated to be 1,411 and is the focus of a nationwide awareness campaign spearheaded by WWF to complement the ongoing conservation work in tiger reserves, including those in the Terai Arc Landscape shared with Nepal.