Bangladesh discovers only 100 tigers in famed Sundarbans

July 27, 2015
A rescued tigress swims in the Sundarikati river after being released by forest workers at Sunderbans in February 2008
A rescued tigress swims in the Sundarikati river after being released by forestry officials at Sunderbans in February 2008

Bangladesh has only about 100 tigers living in the world's largest mangrove forest, far fewer of the endangered animals than previously thought, following a recent survey, a top forestry official said Monday.

Some 440 tigers were recorded during the previous census conducted in 2004 in the World Heritage-listed Sundarbans, one of the world's last remaining habitats for the .

But experts said better methodology was the reason for the huge drop in the numbers, saying hidden cameras used this time around, rather than pug marks, gave a much more accurate figure.

Tapan Kumar Dey, the government's wildlife conservator, said analysis of camera footage from the year-long survey that ended in April found numbers ranged between 83 and 130, giving an average of 106.

"So plus or minus we have around 106 tigers in our parts of the Sundarbans. It's a more accurate figure," Dey told AFP of the survey, which has not yet been publicly released.

About 74 tigers have previously been counted on the Indian side of the Sundarbans, which makes up nearly 40 percent of the forest straddling both countries over 10,000 square kilometres (3,860 square miles).

Bengal tigers live mainly in India, where nationwide there are 2,226, with smaller populations in Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, China and Myanmar.

Monirul Khan, a zoology professor at Bangladesh's Jahangirnagar University and the nation's foremost tiger expert, said the new survey confirmed his worst fears.

Forestry officials watch as a rescued tigress leaps into the Sundarikati river after being released at Sunderbans, in February 2
Forestry officials watch as a rescued tigress leaps into the Sundarikati river after being released at Sunderbans, in February 2008
"It seems the population has declined (in the past) to more than what we had feared," Khan said, saying his studies showed the figure was no more than 200.

Khan said the government needed to do more to protect the animals, whose numbers were shrinking because of poaching and rapid development on the edge of the forest.

The World Wildlife Fund says tigers worldwide are in serious danger of becoming extinct in the wild. Their numbers have fallen from 100,000 in 1900 to around 3,200 now.

Officials have conceded that the pugmark tracking system used in 2004 was unreliable and cameras were installed in trees throughout the forest for the latest survey.

Y.V. Jhala, professor at the Wildlife Institute of India, told AFP the new figure was the "reality".

"The 440 figure was a myth and an imagination. Bangladesh parts of the Sundarbans with its prey size can support up to 200 ," he said, also urging authorities to act to better protect the cats.

Explore further: Cameras to track tiger numbers in Bangladesh census

Related Stories

Cameras to track tiger numbers in Bangladesh census

March 26, 2013

Bangladesh is to launch a census of tigers next month living in the world's largest mangrove forest in a bid to determine the full extent of the threat to their survival, scientists said on Tuesday.

India plans new sanctuary to boost tiger numbers

November 28, 2013

India is planning a new tiger sanctuary inside the world's largest mangrove forest after a previously undiscovered group of the endangered beasts was discovered, wildlife officials say.

Bangladesh meet begins to save endangered tigers

September 14, 2014

Some 140 tiger experts and government officials from 20 countries met in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Sunday to review progress towards an ambitious goal of doubling their number in the wild by 2022.

Nepal launches census of Royal Bengal tiger

February 5, 2013

Hundreds of conservationists have begun a major survey of the number of endangered Royal Bengal tigers living in a vast forest region bordering Nepal and India, officials said Tuesday.

Nepal's Royal Bengal tiger numbers soar

July 29, 2013

Nepal's number of Royal Bengal tigers in the wild has soared 64 percent to 198 in just four years, according to a government survey released Monday.

Recommended for you

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...

EPA adviser is promoting harmful ideas, scientists say

March 22, 2019

The Trump administration's reliance on industry-funded environmental specialists is again coming under fire, this time by researchers who say that Louis Anthony "Tony" Cox Jr., who leads a key Environmental Protection Agency ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.