Tigers facing doom in Bangladesh?

July 30th, 2011 - 10:32 am ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, July 30 (IANS) Tiger, tiger burning bright - goes the saying. Not so for the big cats of Bangladesh. Recent discoveries of tiger skin and bones near the Sundarbans have led experts to say the government has not been doing much for their conservation.

Tiger experts feel international demands for “tiger trophies” and body parts for medicinal purposes have remained the same, which has led to the cat’s continuous poaching.

Monirul H. Khan of Jahangirnagar University says the recent recoveries “give a message that the government should increase monitoring on the forest to stop poaching”.

Besides, ports and cities should also come under vigilance to stop trade and trafficking, Khan told the Daily Star.

Police this week recovered four deer heads and 60 kg of meat preserved in ice and arrested three poachers in Rampal in Bagerhat district.

The poachers also confessed to trading tiger skin.

In February, forest officials arrested a poacher along with four tiger skulls, 138 bones, and hides of two adult tigers and one adult tigress in Sharankhola of Bagerhat.

Nearly every part of a tiger, including flesh, fat, claws, eyeballs, tail, bile, teeth, whiskers, penis and brain has a prescribed benefit, according to the tenets of Chinese medicine.

Of all tiger parts, bones are said to be the most valuable.

Tiger bone is reportedly ground into powder before being made into pills, plasters and concoctions.

Tiger skin is also valuable in the international market for its ornamental value.

Tiger is one of the most critically endangered animals in the world. Experts predict the species will be extinct in the next century if strong measures are not taken.

The Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans - a stretch of 6,017 square km of forest - is officially home to around 450 tigers.

The last pugmark survey by the forest department and the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in 2004 estimated the number to be around 440, including 21 cubs.

Earlier surveys conducted in 1969 estimated 50 to 100 tigers, 350 in 1975, 450 to 600 in 1984 and 430-450 tigers in 1982. A survey conducted in 1993 estimated 362 tigers.

With the help of the Global Tiger Initiative, Bangladesh, a Tiger Ranged Country (TRC), has already developed a National Tiger Recovery Programme and Tiger Action Plan.

It has also amended the Wildlife Conservation Act that ensures compensation to victims of tiger attacks in the Sundarbans.

Since 2000, tigers have killed 193 people, while 30 tigers were beaten to death and some others were found dead in the forest, according to official records of the Bangladeh forest department.

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