Tiger attacks on rise
The incidents of tiger attack have become more frequent recently in the Sundarbans, which has the single largest population of the Bengal tigers in one area.
In the last week, the tigers claimed lives of seven people.
A total of 53 people came under tiger attacks in the forest last year, with 34 killed and the remaining 19 injured severely, according to sources at the Sundarbans Tiger Project.
Once the Sundarbans, only habitat of the Bengal tigers, was double the existing size. Its area is shrinking day by day due to population pressure, Chief Executive of Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh (WTB) Dr M Anwarul Islam told the agency.
“As the area of the forest is diminishing gradually, tigers are compelled to seek new shelters. And in such forays, people fall victims to tiger attacks”, he said.
He said the locals aggressively depend on the Sundarbans for extracting resources and poaching wildlife, so their interaction with the tigers has increased than that in the past.
According to the project sources, tigers caught about 21 goats while villagers killed two tigers that intruded into the villages adjoining the Sundarbans last year.
Sundarbans west zone DFO Md Zahiruddin said two golpata collectors were killed in tiger attacks in the Sundarbans west zone under Koira upazila, Khulna on Wednesday-Thursday.
On January 31, a tiger protector, Kawsar Morol, leader of Tengrakhali Village Tiger Response Team (VTRT), was killed in tiger attack inside Satkhira Range of the Sundarbans.
“People who live near and around the Sundarbans have not enough work opportunities except going to the Sundarbans for their livelihood”, said Dr M Anwarul Islam, a zoology professor at Dhaka University.
He said tigers also may be facing food crisis in Sundarbans, as poaching of wildlife, including deer and other animals, has been going on at an alarming rate. “So, food shortage may be another reason behind the tiger attacks on humans”.
Zoologists attribute a number of reasons to the increasing number of tiger attacks on humans.
They said since the Sundarbans is located in a coastal area, the water there is relatively salty. In all other habitats, tigers drink fresh water. It is said salinity in the area has put the tigers in a state of constant discomfort, rendering them to be extremely aggressive.
The experts also said the high tides in the area destroy the tiger's urine and scat, which serve as territorial markers. Thus, the only way for a tiger to defend its territory is to physically dominate everything that enters its domain.
Ashraful Haque, assistant coordinator of the Sundarbans Tiger Project, said the tiger attack on humans was on the rise in Satkhira Range last year, but the trend continues in Khulna Range this year. “We've to conduct a study to find out the exact reason behind the tiger attacks”, he said.