Tigers on the increase in the Sundarbans

This handout photo taken on 11 April 2018 and released by the Bangladesh Forest Department shows a Bengal tiger walking through the forest in Sarankhola, in the southwestern Bagerhat district. The number of wild tigers in Bangladesh`s Sundarbans area has increased for the first time in 15 years after a major crackdown against poachers in the world`s largest mangrove forest, officials said on 22 May 2019.AFP

The number of tigers in the Sundarbans has increased, indicated the primary estimation of the camera trapping method of the tiger census.

The camera trapping activities of Khulna and Sathkira under the western part of the forest department was completed on 30 April. Those involved in the process said according to the primary findings, the number of tigers has increased in those two ranges.

Hardly any tiger was found in the Khulna range according to the 2015 and 2018 consensus, but a substantial number of the beast has been found this time. The concerned persons claimed picture of tiger cubs along with the parent tigers were also captured on camera in many places.

The camera trapping process was inaugurated on 1 January. This camera trapping will commence on 1 November at the Chandpai and Sharakhola ranges of the Eastern part of the forest.

The tiger census is being carried out under the Tiger Conservation Project. On 23 March, the ministry for environment, forest and climate change approved the project. This project will entail relocation of tigers in the Sundarbans, placing satellite collars on at least two tigers and monitoring them, determining parasitic infections and other diseases afflicting tigers and collecting and analysing data. The project will also include preservation of the Sundarbans.

“The findings from the camera trapping is yet to be reviewed. As a result right now we cannot ascertain the exact number of tigers in those areas. We shall review the images in the coming days and the results will be published,” said Abu Naser Mohsin, forest officer of Sundarban West Forest department.

He further added the presence of tigers was found in the places where they were hitherto absent. It seems the number of tigers has increased significantly. We are getting good results thanks to absence of pirates. Having more tigers means a healthier Sundarbans.

Sources of the Sundarban Tiger Conservation Project said that like human fingerprints, each tiger's stripes are unique. These stripes caught on camera are analysed and research methods applied to determine the number of tigers.

The cost of this project has been estimated at Tk 359.68 million (Tk 35 crore 93 lakh 80 thousand). According to the sources of Tk 352.6 million Tiger Conservation Project, the project will continue till March 2025. The project will not only calculate the number of tigers but also will work to restore and protect. A total of Tk 32.6 million will be spent on the tiger census and this will finish by 2024. The remaining part of the project will start after the census.

The camera trapping work will resume on 1 November from the Sharankhola range in Bagerhat. It will continue for four months and end on 29 February 2024 in the Chandpai range. Camera trapping will be carried out in 665 grids. So far 200 cameras have been fitted in the Satkhira range and 140 in the Khulna range. Work on setting up cameras will be held up for the next six months due to the stormy and rainy weather.

In Sharankhola, 180 cameras will be set up and 145 in Chandpai. The camera trapping not only captures the state of tigers, but also state of tiger prey (deer and wild boars).

According to forest department sources, the area of the Sundarbans in the Bangladesh part is 6,017 sq km. Of this, 4,832 sq km is forest and the remaining is wetland. According to 1997 records, 289 species live in the forestland and 219 species in the wetlands.

According to the 2015 census, there were 106 tigers in the Sundarbans while the number increased to 114 according to the 2018 census.