Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

Samtse forest division recently recorded the first sighting of an adult male tiger in a remote camera trap at an altitude of 2,775 meters above sea level (masl).

The officiating chief forestry officer, Sonam Wangchuk, said that although the dzongkhag did not record even a single sighting in the nationwide tiger survey in 2014 and 2015, the current record was exciting. “We are happy that our division has tigers too.”

Bhutan is among the 11 countries in the world that have recorded the iconic species, which has been listed as endangered species under the IUCN red list since 1969.

The chief of Bhutan Tiger Centre in Gelephu, Tshering Tempa (PhD), said they are currently comparing the pictures caught on the camera trap to verify where the tiger came from. “Foresters in Samtse will monitor the tiger using remote camera traps and will also increase patrolling intensity in the area.”

He said that tiger presence in Samtse was important, as they are in the process of planning for the second nationwide tiger survey scheduled this year. “Now we are sure that tigers are present everywhere in the country.  Our colleagues in the field had been working hard to get the tiger record.”

According to Tshering Tempa, the new record of a tiger in Samtse is a success story of conservation in Bhutan. “Tigers in Bhutan have favourable conditions for survival compared to other countries. 

It is unique that Bhutan is home to tigers living in 100masl in the south to 4,500masl in the north.”

Meanwhile, more than 93 percent of tiger habitats have been lost in the last century alone in the world.

Experts warn that if appropriate conservation measures are not taken, the risk of tigers going extinct is imminent.

Records show there are less than 4,000 tigers in the wild today. Studies show that poaching, prey depletion, and habitat loss continue to threaten the survival of tigers in the wild.

Edited by Tashi Dema