To strengthen tiger conservation efforts in Bhutan, Amankora in partnership with the Bhutan Foundation handed over Nu 630,000 to the Regional Centre for Tiger and Cats Research (RCTCR) in Thimphu on September 28.

The fund was raised during the eighth tour of the dragon held on September 2, where the event highlighted RCTCR’s role in global tiger conservation.

Amankora, in partnership with the Kora Tigers Cycling Team and the Bhutan Foundation, initiated fundraising for the centre through an online campaign where individual donors from abroad also donated for the cause.

Amankora offered individual donors a chance to win a 13-day luxury trip to Thailand and in Bhutan through a draw.

Team Kora Tigers was formed in 2012 and raises fund for saving tigers by participating in various races. The team has set a goal to raise USD 250,000 for ‘Save the Tigers Fund’ through the RCTCR.

The centre was instituted under the Department of Forest and Park Services with agriculture ministry to be a ‘global leader in science and education for tiger and cats conservation’ and fill the gaps in scientific understanding of wildcat conservation.

The centre, which was officially operational for two months, would also conduct research on tigers and wildcats, conservation policy and practices, facilitate education, experience sharing, and learn through targeted students, scientist, and entrepreneur exchange programme.

The centre would focus on creating awareness to youth on conservation of tigers, protect them, why we should protect tigers and provide training to biologists.

A press release from Bhutan Foundation stated that despite concerted efforts to protect this species, its range has undergone one of the most dramatic collapses witnessed by any species. “There are only about 3,800 tigers in the wild while Bhutan records about 103 tigers today harbouring almost three percent of tiger population in the world.”

The centre’s director, Tenzin Choigay, said Bhutan’s tiger population is globally significance and monitoring the status of tigers is important.

Although not so rampant in Bhutan, he said that the loss of tiger habitat, poaching and depletion of tiger breed are the main threats attributing to the endangerment of tiger. “But Bhutan being a small country, with growing population and developmental activities, we may face this situation in future.”

He said they are confident that tigers are safer in Bhutan. “This is why such donations are timely for the centre to take up planned activities.”

Meanwhile, as part of Bhutan Foundation’s project ‘Conserving Bhutan’s Mountain Tigers’, the foundation has donated about Nu 7 million (M) since 2011.

Yangchen C Rinzin