Tiger experts and government officials from 20 countries including 14 tiger range nations are meeting in Nepal’s capital next week to discuss issues relating to protection of the habitat of the critically endangered big cat.

The World Wildlife Fund, National Nature Conservation Trust and Save the Tiger Fund/USA are taking up the joint initiative for the four day global tiger conference and the first International Tiger Workshop on October 27.

The workshop hopes to generate awareness among people about the state of the tiger, a species that suffers severe population decline in all range countries, and had become ‘locally extinct’ in some tiger reserves in India. The objectives of the event were highlighted by Deputy Director of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, Megh Bahadur Pandey.

“Human intervention main cause for declining tiger population”

There are an estimated 4,000 tigers in the wild around the globe at present. In India, a report issued last year by the Tiger Conservation Authority put the estimate at 1,411 individuals at the time of the census. The tiger population has declined from 100,000 since the beginning of the 20th century, mainly due to human intervention, experts say.

The forthcoming conference aims to focus on the factors responsible for the tiger-human conflict and the scope to protect the big cat’s prey and habitat. Among the major factors affecting tigers — even in designated reserves — is the hunting of prey animals such as deer, sambhar and wild pig. The encroachment of forests for grazing is also leading to the human-animal conflict, as the tigers prey on domestic cattle. Grazing is also responsible for the loss of vegetation that would otherwise support the prey base of deer and sambhar.

Besides representatives from tiger range countries such as Nepal, India, China, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand, experts from the U.S. and international conservation groups will also participate in the tiger workshop.