Tiger population likely to fall in Sundarbans: Analysis

BAGERHAT : Tiger population in the Sundarbans may fall from the previous 2004 census, according to a preliminary analysis of Bangladesh-India Joint Tiger Census Project, reports UNB.
Experts from both Bangladesh and India are currently examining about 1,500 images and footprints of big cats taken from the Sundarbans through camera trapping.
After analysing the images and footprints of tigers with Indian experts for seven days, project coordinator M Zahidul Kabir returned home from India on Thursday.
According the preliminary findings of the analysis of experts, Kabir said, the tiger population will decline in the Sundarbans. “It’s almost clear that the ongoing census will find less tigers in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans than the previous ones.”
Zahidul Kabir, also divisional forest officer of the Wildlife Conservation Circle of the Forest Department, told UNB that they are still analysing the footages of the trap cameras and the pugmarks.
“Earlier, Indian experts also worked with us here for seven days to examine the images and footprints of tigers. We’re also exchanging information with Indian experts through email.”
The forest officer said the analysis of images and footprints of tigers is expected to be completed by this month (June) and the result of the ongoing tiger census would be announced in July next.
According to the last tiger census conducted by the government in 2004, the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans was a home to 440 tigers. But, the Forest Department data show that 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.
Zahidul Kabir said the ongoing two-year tiger census project has been taken 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. Besides, pugmarks had been collected from Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans from February 12 to March this year.