Our new partner, tiger biologist Sam Helle, is starting field work in central Nepal this week.

She’ll be working in the vicinity of Butwal, a large metropolitan area located between two large national parks in Nepal, Chitwan and Bardia. Tigers have been seen in the area, so there may be a “tiger bottleneck” happening in Butwal as tigers try to travel between the two large protected areas.

This bottleneck creates an important location for tiger researchers like Sam to study. Are tigers able to get through this human-inhabited area or not?

Sam Helle gives a brief video overview of the tiger tracking project.

Sam will be meeting with community forest groups and other local people in the villages next to Butwal to try to determine whether tigers are able to travel through it. Community Conservation Inc will be helping with the aspects of Sam’s work that involve local communities.

We and Sam are reaching out to local community forest groups together, meeting with them, and asking for their help and ideas about which areas tigers are using.

She will be looking for signs, tracks, and scat to determine tiger presence as well as setting up camera traps. Then she will be doing genetic analysis on the tiger scat to determine if tigers on one side of Butwal are breeding with tigers on the other side. If so, this would support the theory that the tigers are able to get through.

For frequent updates and pictures from the day to day in Nepal, follow us (@communityconservationinc) and Sam (@Samanthaiam) on social media.

Our executive director Dr. Teri Allendorf is in Nepal right now working on this project with Sam. Afterwards, she’s heading to eastern Nepal to work on our corridor project.

About Sam

Sam Helle is a conservation biologist, tiger researcher, and current PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research primarily focuses on tiger conservation, human-wildlife conflict mitigation, and community-based conservation initiatives in Nepal. She She received her B.S. and M.Sc. from the University of Minnesota studying Wildlife Ecology and Management, and was awarded a US Fulbright Research Fellowship in 2019. She is fascinated by studying both tiger population connectivity and the local capacity for tiger conservation outside protected areas.

Sam Helle

Other work in Nepal – the Eastern Terai Corridor

Community Conservation Inc has been working in Nepal for many years. Most recently, we have been working with our partners to hold wildlife monitoring workshops where community forest groups learn how to use camera traps, GPS, and other methods to track the wildlife populations in their forests.

Ultimately, our vision is to create a corridor of safe habitat across Nepal’s Eastern Terai Landscape for large mammals and other wildlife. This corridor will allow wildlife to travel back and forth between large protected areas so they can thrive and increase their populations. Many species would benefit, from tigers and elephants to pangolins and birds. We have been raising awareness of the corridor concept, as well as wildlife conservation in general, among community forest groups in the area along as part of the wildlife monitoring trainings.

This corridor was the brainchild of our late founder, Dr. Rob Horwich, and continues to be one of Community Conservation Inc’s most important long-term goals.

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