Tiger Census in Sundarbans: Over 200 cameras to be installed
The government is going to undertake a major survey to assess the animals that Bengal tigers prey on in the Sundarbans and also monitor the current situation of the habitat under a new project of the forest department.
The authorities will also conduct a tiger census in the world's largest mangrove forest and take measures to reduce human-tiger conflict with an aim to ensure a safe environment for the big cats in the Sundarbans.
The three-year-long project, styled "Sundarbans Tiger Conservation Project" and undertaken by the forest department, will be implemented from April 2022 to March 2025 at an estimated cost of Tk 35.93 crore, said project officials.
The current tiger population in the country is yet to be known as there have been no surveys since 2018. The last survey put number of tigers in the Sundarbans at 114.
In 2010, at a summit in Russia, Tiger Range Countries committed to double the global tiger population by 2022. Bangladesh was among the 13 countries where tigers still roam in the wild.
The summit had also decided that the countries would conduct surveys every four years.
"Keeping in mind the next tiger summit, we have decided to conduct the census in the Sundarbans and are hopeful to start from October this year," Dr Abu Naser Mohsin Hossain, divisional forest officer of Sundarban West Division of Khulna, told The Daily Star yesterday.
"For the first time we are going to conduct a tiger prey animal survey along with the tiger census under this project."
He said in the project they will also see the health condition of the animals and if anything of concern is found, actions would be taken based on the findings.
The major threats to the Bengal tiger are poaching of the animal and its preys, including deer, and habitat loss.
Bangladesh has taken several steps for tiger conservation, including the Tiger Action Plan 2009-2017 and National Tiger Recovery Programme. The second phase of the Tiger Action Plan, which started in 2018, will continue till 2027.
Project officials said camera trapping method, with the installation of over 200 cameras, will be used to provide data for their movement in the Sundarbans.
They said that under the project, members of village tiger response teams and community patrol group will be trained to raise awareness to reduce human-tiger conflict – one of the major concerns in tiger conservation.
"These two groups are inactive for a long time. So now we are planning to motivate them and make them aware," Mohsin said.
Under the project, the capacity of the forest department in tiger conservation will be enhanced through training and purchase of necessary equipment.
Mohsin said in some spots of the Sundarbans, the male-female ratio of tiger is not balanced, so an initiative may be taken to install a satellite collar on the body of a tiger in the Sundarbans to monitor where there are few or no tigers in the forest.
He said satellite collar will be installed in two tigers to identify the no tiger zone.
Contacted, Dr M Monirul H Khan, chairman of the zoology department at Jahangirnagar University, said it seems that the study is very comprehensive and it would give a clear idea about the Sundarbans tigers and its habitats.