News Desk : dhakamirror.com
The number of tigers in the Sundarbans is expected to increase due to successful conservation efforts in the world’s largest mangrove forest, officials said.
Forest Department officials involved in the ongoing tiger census said they found evidence of tigers using camera traps in areas where a previous investigation found none.
According to the preliminary data obtained from the cameras installed inside the forest, the number of tigers in the Khulna and Satkhira ranges has increased, they said.
However, they could not provide specific numbers.
The result of the census is expected to be published in 2024.
Surveys conducted in 2015 and 2018 did not find any tigers in parts of the Khulna range.
But the camera traps this time captured adult tigers with cubs. Locals and forest rangers also reported frequent tiger sightings.
There has also been a flurry of incidents in which tourists saw tigers in the Sundarbans.
On March 12, four tigers were spotted in a tourist area in the Mongla end of the Sundarbans.
Besides, tiger attacks on fishermen have also increased, according to officials.
Under the current tiger census, camera traps had been set up in Khulna and Satkhira ranges between January 1 and April 30.
The traps will be installed in the Chandpai and Sharankhola ranges between November 1 and February 29, 2024.
In total, 665 cameras will be installed.
Abu Naser Mohsin Hossain, divisional forest officer of Khulna, told The Daily Star that the information obtained from the traps has not been verified yet.
“It is not possible to say how many tigers are present in the two ranges. After collecting and analysing all the data from all ranges surveyed, the tiger census result will be published in 2024,” said the DFO, also the director of Sundarbans Tiger Conservation Project.
Like the fingerprints of humans, the stripes on tigers are unique, said the forest official. The number of tigers will be determined by analysing their stripes, he added.
He said the expected increase in the number of tigers might be attributed to the forest department’s increased vigilance against poachers and locals’ change of attitude towards the big cat.
“Besides, deer and wild boar numbers have also increased in the forest, providing enough food for tigers,” he said.
He said the government’s decision to compensate families of tiger victims has also helped change locals’ attitudes towards the tigers.
The government’s “Sundarbans Tiger Conservation Project” is expected to be completed by March 2025. However, the tiger census programme will end in 2024.
In the first tiger census conducted in 1982, at least 453 tigers were found in the Sundarbans. Only 106 tigers were found in 2013 and 114 in 2018.