Tigers (panthera tigris) are one of the most iconic animals in the world and they are hanging on by the skin of their teeth in the wild. The good news is that the Bhutan tiger count was up 27 percent in time for International Tiger Day July 29.
The Bhutan tiger count is now 127, and was celebrated July 29 during International tiger day. Bhutan, India and Nepal all have increased their tiger numbers. The international goal set in 2010 is to double the number of wild tigers. That goal is far from being reached, although the governments involved are all pledging to do so.
Bhutan is a small landlocked country between Tibet, China and India. The country is roughly half the size of the the state of Indiana. About three-quarters of a million people live in Bhutan. The Himalaya Mountains run through the country which also has fertile valleys. About 27 percent of the nation is dense forest. Deer and wild pigs make up much of the tiger diet. The nation has about 200 species of mammals inside its borders.
Bhutan is a likely candidate for conservation success. In the 1970’s the King of Bhuan introduced a concept called “Gross National Happiness.” GNH is based on good governance, sustainable development, cultural preservation and environmental conservation.
The Bhutan Tiger Center is responsible for tiger preservation. The center works with the Bhutan Foundation and the royal government. The king is Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, the Dragon King of Bhutan. The country is a democratic constitutional monarchy.
According to the Bhutan Foundation website:
“More than 50 percent of Bhutan’s total landscape is declared as a protected area. This, combined with a constitutional mandate of maintaining at least 60 percent forest cover in perpetuity, offers one of the best hopes for maintaining a viable tiger population in the wild. Bhutan is a unique tiger habitat, as the species’ known trek routes extend across the whole country, from lowland subtropical jungles all the way up to frozen subalpine forests. It’s no wonder then, that the highest altitude recorded for tigers in the world is in Bhutan at 4,400 masl (SP) in Wangchuck Centennial Park.” MAMSL is an acronym for meters above sea level. Bhutanese tigers have been seen well over 10,000 feet above sea level.
Tigers are not the only high-climbing cat in the Himalayas. Researchers were surprised to find manuls (Pallas’ Cat or Felis manul) high in the
too. Those cats were on the slopes of Mt. Everest. Bhutan is also home to an estimated 200 snow leopards.