Wildlife: Bhutan announced yesterday that it is adopting the Conservation Assured Tiger Standards (CA|TS), reaffirming its commitment to secure the long-term future of the country’s wild tigers.

CA|TS is currently adopted by Bangladesh China, India, Nepal, Russia and now Bhutan, covering 25 key sites where tigers are known to roam and discussion is underway with Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

The national tiger survey in 2015 found an estimated 103 tigers living in the country’s pristine forests, including some that roam as high as 4,000 metres above sea level.

Wildlife Conservation Division chief in the Forests and Park Services, Sonam Wangchuk said, “Bhutan is committed to safeguarding our protected areas for tiger populations to thrive.”

He said being part of CA|TS is a big step towards achieving this, by ensuring that our protected areas meet the highest global standards for conservation management.

CA|TS is a conservation tool which enables key tiger sites to be effectively managed. These include existing tiger reserves and protected areas that are home to tigers, as well as landscapes that can potentially recover wild tigers. Through CA|TS, tiger sites are encouraged to achieve the highest global standards through an independent evaluation process.

Bhutan is one of the thirteen countries working towards Tx2 – a global goal to double wild tiger numbers by 2022, the next Year of the Tiger. Three of Bhutan’s protected areas are known to harbour tigers, all of which have been registered for CA|TS’ independent assessment.

The Royal Manas National Park is a key tiger landscape. It forms part of the larger Transboundary Manas Conservation Area that shares border with India and is home to more than 1,500 species, including endangered tigers, elephants and rhinos.

Country Director of WWF-Bhutan, Dechen Dorji said that CA|TS will help protect more than tigers. “Effectively managed protected areas will benefit other wildlife. It will also benefit the people of Bhutan as our forests provide key ecosystem services such as clean water, food and medicine,” he said.

At present only a few protected areas in Asia are secured. This has contributed to a drastic decline in wild tiger numbers over the past decade, despite major investment in their conservation, the WWF press release stated.

By ensuring that Asia’s protected areas are secured, CA|TS enables governments and other stakeholders to take far bigger strides toward doubling wild tigers by 2022.

Chair of the CA|TS Executive Committee, Mike Baltzer, said that committing to the CA|TS standards shows the determination of a country to save its tigers. “Bhutan once again proves to be a global leader in conservation by taking this action. When all the tiger range countries commit to CA|TS, we can be more assured that we are on the path away from the extinction of wild tigers,” he said.

Staff Reporter