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Only 106 tigers found in Sundarbans
The tiger population in Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, has sharply declined to 106 from 440 in 2004, confirms a top forest official quoting the tiger census 2015.
Forest conservator Dr Tapan Kumar Dey told UNB that more scientific method was used in the new census, which found only 106 big cats in the Sundarbans, and attributed its sharp fall in recent years to unchecked wildlife poaching.
Wildlife experts said the methodology applied in the new tiger census that used hidden cameras to count tigers is better rather than pug marks used in the past. The new census has, therefore, provided more accurate figure of the tiger.
According to the tiger census conducted by the government in 2004, the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans was a home to 440 tigers.
Wildlife biologist Prof Dr Monirul H Khan said the 2004 census that used pug marks to count tigers was not actually reliable and scientific method. “So, it didn’t give the exact figure of Sundarbans tigers,” he said.
Khan further said, “But, there’s no doubt tiger population has declined in the Sundarbans in recent years due to rampant poaching of the big cats and for lack of proper forest management.”
Bangladesh-India Joint Tiger Census Project conducted the tiger census 2015 examining some 1,500 images and footprints of tigers taken from the Sundarbans through camera trapping and found the horribly low figure of tigers.
Earlier, the preliminary findings of the analysis of experts also feared that the new census will find less tigers in the Sundarbans than the previous ones.
Experts observe that the loss of habitat, unchecked wildlife poaching, animal-human conflict in the forest and lack of management of forest are the main reasons behind the rapid fall in the tiger population.
Dr Tapan Kumar said there is no alternative to improvement of forest management to increase the tiger population in the Sundarbans in accordance with the declaration of ‘International Tiger Forum’ in St Petersburg (Russia) in November 2010,
According to the Forest Department data, at least 49 tigers were killed in the last 14 years (2001-2014) since the illegal poaching of wildlife and tiger-human conflict is on the rise in the Sundarbans, the country's only natural tiger habitat with a range of 6,017 square kilometers.
The new two-year tiger census project was carried out under ‘Strengthening Regional Cooperation for Wildlife Protection in Asia Project’ with financial support from the World Bank.
In the first phase of the Bangladesh-India joint tiger census project, completed in April this year beginning November 1, 2013, some 89 infrared cameras were used to capture tigers’ movements within a 3,000-sqkm area in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans.
The second phase of the tiger census project using camera trapping method began on November 12, 2014.
The International Tiger Forum in 2010 declared their collective political will to take all necessary actions to prevent the extinction of wild tigers and increasing global tiger population double by 2022.
The forum had taken the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) Implementation Plan, which is a significant step for the Tiger Conservation of the Tiger Range Countries, including Bangladesh.
The second Stocktaking Conference of the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) was held in Dhaka during September 14-16 in 2014.