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Tiger population in Sundarbans rises to 114

  • Published at 01:31 pm May 22nd, 2019
A tiger seen resting in a bush in Sundarbans Tim Laman

Tiger numbers have increased 8% in three years

The number of Bengal tigers in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarban forests has increased to 114, according to a recent tiger census.

The number rose to 114 in 2018, up from 106 recorded during a previous survey in 2015, revealed the latest census: "Second phase status of tigers in Bangladesh Sundarbans 2018".

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin formally released the report at Hoimonti auditorium of Ban Bhaban in Agargaon yesterday.

Citing the report, the minister said: "In 2015, the number of tigers was 106. Now, we have 114 tigers in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans, which is an increase of 8%."

"We have 2.55 tigers per 100 square kilometre of the Sundarbans. The number was 2.17 in 2015," he said. Senior ministry and Department of Forest officials were present at the event.

The second phase census began in 2016 under USAID’s Bengal Tiger Conservation Activity (BAGH) project. The camera trap method was used to record the number of tigers.

The survey was conducted in four phases from December 1, 2016, to May 10, 2018. Cameras were set up over 1,659 square kilometres of tiger inhabited areas in the Sundarbans. Of the total area, 1,208sq km are in Satkhira, 165sq km in Khulna, and 283sq km in the Shoronkhola range of Bagerhat district.

The camera traps were deployed at 536 locations in the Sundarbans, and captured 2,466 images of tigers during the 249-day census. A total of 63 adult tigers, four juveniles, and five cubs were identified, and Spatially Explicit Capture Recapture (SECR) analysis of the adult tigers says this amounts to an overall density of 2.55 tigers per 100 square kilometers and a population of 114 tigers in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans.

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab Uddin said: “It is our national duty to protect tigers. If we fail to protect tigers, the whole ecosystem of the Sundarbans will collapse. Tigers are already under threat of extinction, due to poaching and the expansion of human settlements.

“The increase in tiger numbers gives us some hope. We will do everything needed to further increase the number of Bengal Tigers,” he added.

Chief Conservator of Forests, Mohammed Shafiul Alam Chowdhury, said: “Poaching is a grave threat to tigers, as there is a big market for them in Chinese medicine. We must stop the poaching.”

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Deputy Minister Habibun Nahar, Secretary Abdullah Al Mohsin Chowdhury, other high officials of the ministry, and representatives of Jahangirnagar University and USAID were among those in attendance at the program.

The USAID BAGH project's first phase survey in 2015 recorded 106 tigers.

The tiger census were conducted by the Bangladesh Forest Department in cooperation with Wildteam, and the Smithsonian Conservation Institute. USAID financed the several census under the BAGH project. The department of zoology at Jahangirnagar University assisted with the data analysis and preparation of the report.

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