‘Tiger Conservation’ project is set to start by January 2021
The World Tiger Day will be celebrated in the country, as elsewhere across the globe, on Wednesday to raise awareness to save the remaining population of the big cat from extinction.
Tiger population is declining alarmingly in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans, a world heritage site and home to the Royal Bengal Tiger.
According to the Tiger Census 2015, the tiger population was only 106 in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans, down from 440, including 21 cubs, in 2004. The census in 2004 was conducted based on pugmark.
Later, the 2017-2018 tiger census identified 114 tigers in the Sundarbans of Bangladesh side.
Forest officials said they conducted the camera trap census in 1,659 sqkm of core tiger population areas in the Sundarbans.
Of the total area, 1,208 square kilometres is in Satkhira, 165 square kilometres in Khulna and 286 square kilometres in Shoronkhola, Bagerhat.
Forest officials installed 491 cameras on trees at 239 points of the Sundarbans and collected 2,500 images of tigers during a 249-day survey.
Analysing the images of tigers, experts projected that the total number of Bengal tigers is 114. Indian tiger experts helped the forest department officials conduct the census.
According to the Forest Department, 48 tigers died between 2001 and 2020. Among those, 22 died in Sundarbans’ East Division and 16 in West Division.
Moreover, law enforcers recovered 10 tiger hides during this period.
Md Amir Hosain Chowdhury, the chief conservator of forests (CCF), said a project named ‘Bagh Songrokkhon’ (conservation of tigers) has been introduced which will be sent to the concerned ministry next month.
The three-year project expense has been fixed at Tk48 crore, he said adding that the project will start its activities by January 2021 if it is approved.
Mohammad Belayet Hossain, divisional forest officer (DFO), Sundarbans East, said a smart patrolling is active in the Sundarbans besides their regular drives against tiger poachers.
Boshirul Al Mamun, DFO, Sundarbans West Division, said they kept the main poachers' entry point under special surveillance.
In 1975, a field survey conducted by Bubert Hendrichs found 350 Bengal tigers.
In 1982, Margaret Salter carried out a sample and field survey and estimated that the number of tigers was 425.
Rex Gittins conducted a survey in 1984 covering 110 sqkm area of the Sundarbans South Wildlife Sanctuary and found the tiger population to be 430 to 450.
In 1992, the forest department collected data from the people working in the Sundarbans area and estimated the number to be 359.
The following year, Dhan Bahadur Tamang conducted a pugmark census covering 350 sqkm of the Sundarbans area and put the number at 362.
The major threats to the Bengal tiger are poaching of tigers and its prey, including deer, and habitat loss.
International Tiger Day is being observed on July 29 every year since 2010 since the Saint Petersburg Tiger Summit.