Namobuddha became Nepal’s first wild tiger to be fitted with a GPS-enabled satellite collar and translocated from Chitwan National Park to Bardia National Park in Nepal on January 22. WWF supported the translocation with technical expertise and financial aid, working closely with the Government of Nepal and the National Trust for Nature Conservation. The satellite collar will help scientists gain a better understanding of tiger ecology and improve conservation efforts like anti-poaching operations.
On January 21, Namobuddha was tranquilized, collared and then was transported nearly 400 miles in a specially constructed trailer under strict supervision and security measures. The translocation was monitored by a team of wildlife veterinarians, wildlife biologists, park staff and conservationists, including Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation of Nepal, Deepak Bohara.
Namobuddha’s new home, the fertile Babai valley, is abundant with prey, has strong anti-poaching efforts in place and connects to forest corridors and other protected areas in the Terai Arc Landscape, which provides tigers room to roam. It is not easily accessible by people, which also reduces the likelihood of human-tiger conflict.
“This successful translocation is a testament to the skill and expertise of Nepal’s conservation community,” said Carter Roberts, President and CEO of WWF, who participated in the operation. “To see this majestic beast released into his new home gives me hope that tigers—in Nepal and throughout Asia–can have a bright future.”
In September 2010, Namobuddha was rescued after being found wounded outside of Chitwan National Park. After making a complete recovery, it was decided that he would be translocated to Bardia National Park. For the next three months the monitoring team will chart Namobuddha’s location via SMS from the satellite collar and observe the tiger to assess the success of the operation.
Video: Nepal translocates first wild tiger
The Terai Arc Landscape in the Himalayas, where Bardia National Park is located, has one of the highest densities of tiger populations in the world and is recognized as a global priority landscape for tiger conservation. It is also among the world’s most critically threatened tiger habitats because the space is shared with millions of people. Tracking wild tigers and better protecting core populations and habitat is vitally important for Nepal to achieve Tx2, the doubling of its tiger population.
“This translocation—the first of its kind in Nepal—is a concrete example of our commitment to saving wild tigers using the best science available, including the application of cutting-edge technologies,” said Minister Bohara. “I am confident that by working together the global community can reach the goals we set for ourselves at the recently concluded tiger summit to save tigers to benefit people, nations and nature.”