Royal Bengal Tiger count falls rapidly

The tiger population in Bangladesh has declined sharply to 106 from 440 last year, according to a survey.

The loss of habitat, unchecked wildlife poaching, animal-human conflict in the forest and lack of forest management are the main reasons behind the rapid fall in the tiger population, say experts.

The year-long survey ended in April was based on footage from hidden cameras and found the number of tigers between 83 and 130. Bangladesh’s Forest conservator Dr. Tapan Kumar Dey said more scientific method was used in the new census, which found only 106 big cats in the Sundarbans.

“It’s a more accurate figure,” said the country’s top wildlife official.

The new tiger census project was carried out under ‘Strengthening Regional Cooperation for Wildlife Protection in Asia Project’ with financial support from the World Bank. The Bangladesh-India Joint Tiger Census Project conducted the tiger census examining some 1,500 images and footprints of tigers taken from the Sundarbans through camera trapping and found the horribly low figure of tigers.

Wildlife experts said the methodology applied in the new tiger census is better rather than pug marks used in the past.

There are apparently 74 tigers on the Indian side of the Sundarbans, the mangrove forest that stretches for nearly 4,000 miles across both countries.

One of Bangladesh’s top tiger experts, Dr. Monirul H Khan, said the 2004 census that used pugmarks to count tigers was not actually a reliable and scientific method.

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