The Sundarbans -- the world’s largest mangrove forest -- is home to some 269 different animal species, and has been recognized as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
And of all these species, it is the Bengal tiger which truly captures the spirit of Bangladesh.
As such, we need to do all we can to protect our tigers -- this means better surveillance, better monitoring, and better surveys to ascertain the true number of the tiger population.
Regrettably, resources are being wasted right now by enlisting an NGO to conduct a tiger census when the necessary expertise and equipment is already there at the hands of our Forestry Department.
Certainly, there is nothing wrong in partnering with other organizations for conservation work, but experts are right to point out that this is too important an issue to be done on a project basis which is subject to the availability of funds -- the tiger survey should be part of the government’s core conservation program.
A 2015 census showed a tiger population of only 106, an alarming drop from the previous count in 2008 of 440 tigers, and conservation experts say the new survey is unlikely to give us any accurate new numbers.
This is not acceptable -- more than just a symbol of national pride, the Bengal tiger occupies a delicate place in the ecological balance of the Sundarbans.
The tiger’s habitat is not only a vital wildlife sanctuary, but is also a natural bulwark against the sea.
We expect our Forest Department to not sell out to short term interests and do the right thing in the interest of the nation -- our ability to protect our tigers, other wildlife, and the Sundarbans is an indication of our development as a nation.