Bangladesh dis­cov­ers only 100 tigers in famed Sun­dar­bans

Mizzima Business Weekly - - CONTENTS -

Bangladesh has only about 100 tigers liv­ing in the world’s largest man­grove for­est, far fewer of the en­dan­gered an­i­mals than pre­vi­ously thought, fol­low­ing a re­cent sur­vey, a top forestry of­fi­cial said re­cently. Some 440 tigers were recorded dur­ing the pre­vi­ous cen­sus con­ducted in 2004 in the World Her­itage-listed Sun­dar­bans, one of the world’s last re­main­ing habi­tats for the big cats.

But ex­perts said bet­ter method­ol­ogy was the rea­son for the huge drop in the num­bers, say­ing hid­den cam­eras used this time around, rather than pug marks, gave a much more ac­cu­rate fig­ure.

Ta­pan Ku­mar Dey, the gov­ern­ment’s wildlife con­ser­va­tor, said anal­y­sis of cam­era footage from the year­long sur­vey that ended in April found num­bers ranged be­tween 83 and 130, giv­ing an av­er­age of 106.

“So plus or mi­nus we have around 106 tigers in our parts of the Sun­dar­bans. It’s a more ac­cu­rate fig­ure,” Dey told AFP of the sur­vey, which has not yet been pub­licly re­leased.

About 74 tigers have pre­vi­ously been counted on the In­dian side of the Sun­dar­bans, which makes up nearly 40 per­cent of the for­est strad­dling both coun­tries over 10,000 square kilo­me­tres (3,860 square miles).

Ben­gal tigers live mainly in In­dia, where na­tion­wide there are 2,226, with smaller pop­u­la­tions in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myan­mar.

Monirul Khan, a zool­ogy pro­fes­sor at Bangladesh’s Ja­hangir­na­gar Univer­sity and the na­tion’s fore­most tiger ex­pert, said the new sur­vey con­firmed his worst fears.

“It seems the pop­u­la­tion has de­clined (in the past) to more than what we had feared,” Khan said, say­ing his stud­ies showed the fig­ure was no more than 200.

Khan said the gov­ern­ment needed to do more to pro­tect the an­i­mals, whose num­bers were shrink­ing be­cause of poach­ing and rapid de­vel­op­ment on the edge of the for­est.

The World Wildlife Fund says tigers world­wide are in se­ri­ous dan­ger of be­com­ing ex­tinct in the wild. Their num­bers have fallen from 100,000 in 1900 to around 3,200 now.

Of­fi­cials have con­ceded that the pug­mark track­ing sys­tem used in 2004 was un­re­li­able and cam­eras were in­stalled in trees through­out the for­est for the latest sur­vey.

Y.V. Jhala, pro­fes­sor at the Wildlife In­sti­tute of In­dia, told AFP the new fig­ure was the “re­al­ity”.

“The 440 fig­ure was a myth and an imag­i­na­tion. Bangladesh parts of the Sun­dar­bans with its prey size can sup­port up to 200 tigers,” he said, also urg­ing author­i­ties to act to bet­ter pro­tect the cats.

Chil­dren in In­dia take part in a cam­paign to raise aware­ness of the threats to tigers in In­dia and South Asia gen­er­ally

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