Even though the government has taken various measures to protect Bengal Tigers in the Sundarbans, its poaching is on the rise with 49 being killed in last 14 years (2001-2014), according to forest department data.
Among the 49 tigers, 17 were killed in the Sundarbans east zone of the forest department while 15 were killed in the Sundarbans west zone.
According to the data, the forest department recovered 17 tiger skins from different parts of the country during the period (2001-2014) while being smuggled out of the country.
On Tuesday night, Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) members arrested three poachers with a tiger hide, teeth and some tiger bones in a bus stand in Morelganj upazila of the district.
During Rab's preliminary interrogation, the arrestees confessed to killing eight Bengal Tigers in Sundarbans in the last two months for smuggling out their hides and bones.
If their confession is true then it will be very difficult for Bangladesh to keep its commitment, which was made in International Tiger Forum in St Petersburg (Russia) in November 2010, of either increasing the tiger population marginally or protecting the existing tigers in the Sundarbans, Forest Conservator (wildlife circle) Dr Tapan Kumar Dey told the news agency.
According to an official survey conducted in 2004, there were 440 tigers in the Sundarbans, the country's only natural tiger habitat with a range of 6,017 square kilometers.
Although official data shows that some 49 tigers were killed in last 14 years, the locals of the Sundarbans claimed that the actual number of poached tigers would be much higher than the forest department data.
They said wildlife poaching continues rampantly in the Sundarbans while the poachers frequently enter it and hunt tigers, deer and other wildlife using traps and guns.
There are a number of wildlife poachers' groups in the nearby villages of the Sundarbans and they are poaching wildlife in both the Sundarbans east and west zones.
The groups have a link with the international wildlife smugglers, according to local sources.
After poaching the wildlife, including tigers from the Sundarbans, the local poachers bring them to the nearby villages and process the hides, bones and other limbs of the wildlife. Later, they sell those to the international smugglers, they added.
The residents of Banglabazar, Uttar Rajapur, Sonatola, Bagi and Khuriakhali villages near the Sundarbans also said there are a number of active wildlife poachers' groups in their neighbourhoods and the villagers can hardly raise their voice in fear of reprisal.
Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Sundarbans East Zone Amir Hossain Chowdhury said many plans are being implemented to protect Bengal Tigers while the Forest Department's Wildlife Circle has been strengthened, officials of the department have been trained and coordination among the forest department, Coast Guard, Rab and police has been strengthened to check wildlife poaching.
He said officials of the forest department are conducting drives across the country to arrest poachers and they are often detaining members of wildlife smugglers and also recovering hides of tigers and deer.
The International Tiger Forum in 2010 declared its collective political will to take all necessary actions to prevent the extinction of wild tigers and double the global tiger population by 2022.
The forum has taken the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) Implementation Plan, which is a significant step for tiger conservation in the Tiger Range Countries, including Bangladesh.
The second Stocktaking Conference of the Global Tiger Recovery Program (GTRP) was held in Dhaka during September 14-16 in 2014.