Assessment of genetic diversity, population structure, and gene flow of tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) across Nepal's Terai Arc Landscape

2018-02-16T04:49:29Z (GMT) by Dibesh Karmacharya

Nepal Tiger Genome Project (NTGP), a two year (June 2011- 2013) research project to build genetic database of wild Bengal tigers of Nepal. NTGP is a collaborative effort of Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal, Nepal Government’s Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, University of Idaho and Virginia Tech University. The project introduced latest genetic technology in Nepal for wildlife conservation and has built Nepal’s first geo-spatial genetic database of Bengal tigers from throughout the Terai Arc landscape. NTGP was made possible through generous funding support of the American people through USAID/Nepal under Fixed Obligation Grant (FOG) no. AID-367-G-11-00001.

Conservation of the Bengal tigers in Nepal is a top priority due to its dwindling number of species worldwide. It is important to have a comprehensive understanding of tiger conservation from a landscape perspective. In order to develop effective policies and strategies for the conservation of Bengal tigers, effective census tools need to be developed and deployed. The conventional tools for conservation are often inadequate and ineffective to address the problem.

NTGP introduced the latest in non-invasive genetic technology to address many challenges of tiger conservation in Nepal. Due to its high specificity and sensitivity, information obtained through a genetic study is more detailed than conventionally gathered data. It can also be applied to understand landscape genetics of the species which has great utility for developing overall conservation policies and strategies on a landscape scale. In addition to introducing new genetic technology in Nepal, NTGP also enhanced existing laboratory capacity and fostered an environment of conservation research collaboration in a global scale.

A comprehensive Bengal tiger genetic database has been created with detailed field, laboratory and genetic information on confirmed tiger samples. This elaborate searchable database is designed to be highly secure and accessible only to the government with CMDN being the caretaker of the information; this database has a greater utility for wildlife research and forensic purposes.

NTGP has been able to leave a long lasting impact in the field of conservation genetics in Nepal. The project itself has trained 75 local experts, created 43 jobs, brought in experts from 4 countries, and helped in five other similar researches in Nepal.