Photo: Amdadul Huq / Driknews
The Wildlife Conservation Society and the Panthera Foundation announced plans to establish a 5,000 mile-long "genetic corridor" from Bhutan to Burma that would allow the tiger population to roam freely across landscapes. The corridor, first announced at the United Nations, would span eight countries and represent the largest block of tiger habitat left on earth.
Genetic corridors, where tigers can travel with less risk of inbreeding, are crucial for their long-term survival in Asia. The proposed corridor includes extensive areas of Bhutan, northeast India, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia, along with potential connectivity to Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The new King of Bhutan, his Majesty Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, who requested other heads of state to support similar efforts, has already endorsed it.
While Asia's economic tigers are on the rise, wild tigers in Asia are in decline. Much like the call-out for global agreements on banning tiger parts in trade, a similar cross-border initiative for genetic corridors is key to the survival of the tiger. Tigers do not observe political borders nor do they require a visa or passport to travel where habitat and prey remain.
The good news is that given the chance, tigers can replenish their numbers; the bad news is that they are not being given that chance in many parts of their range. Though no truly accurate global numbers exist, conservationists guess that 5,000 tigers remain in the wild. About 150 years ago, 100,000 tigers may have roamed throughout much of Asia according to some guesses.
Tiger scene in Bangladesh chapter is also alarming. According to information available, tigers are being killed here (Sundarbans) and there (zoo), while 2 years ago two Bengal tigers were killed in Sundarban smangrove during research by radio-collaring, which was extremely pathetic. These unfortunate situations need a permanent solution prior to the extinction of these majestic animals from our country, which only timely action would prevent. Bangladesh has to also lobby international organizations to be marched with tiger protection movement.
Let us respect their right to live, and save these majestic animals that are beauties from the present untimely cruel deaths, for which enacting tough law, urgent protection and conservation schemes are essential.