POST TIME: 24 January, 2018 12:17:30 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 24 January, 2018 08:54:22 AM
Tigress killed as forest officials ‘nap’
Villagers kill tigress after it comes out of Sundarbans, injures 6 in Bagerhat

Tigress killed as forest officials ‘nap’

A Royal Bengal Tiger was killed in southern Bagerhat district yesterday, thanks to the slack enforcement of law and negligence of forest officials that have contributed to a drastic fall in the number of tigers in the Sunderbans. This is the 50th killing of tigers in the last 18 years, the previous one having taken place in 2012. The ill-fated two-year old tigerress entered Gulishakhali village in Morrelganj upazila yesterday morning. According to local sources, the tigeress injured at least six people before it was brutally killed by local people. The 13 Tiger Range Countries (TRCs) and partner organisations, development partners and donors met at a conference in September 14 to 16, 2014, in Dhaka. A decision was taken to double the number of wild tigers globally by 2022 under the Global Tiger Recovery Programme (GTRP).

The tiger population was 453 in 1982 and 440 in 2004. According to the most recent tiger census carried out in 2015, it is now 106.

At least 50 tigers were killed between 2001 and 2018, while 232 people were killed in tiger-human conflict during the same period, according to the forest department.

Among the 50 tigers, 18 were killed in the forest department's east zone of the Sunderbans, while 15 were killed in the west zone.

The Royal Bengal Tiger has been listed as “endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species since

2010. “It is a criminal offence to kill a tiger at Morrelganj. We are preparing to file a POR (prosecution offence report) case against people involved in killing the tiger,” Zahidul Kabir, conservator of forest (wildlife), told The Independent yesterday. There are about 106 tigers in the Sunderbans as per the 2015 census, he said. “About 40 tigers have died, including some of natural causes, in the last 15 years,” he added.

When asked about saving the tiger, Kabir replied: “Definitely, tigers can be saved as we have trained manpower to tackle such a situation. Local people could have informed us instead of killing the tiger. We have tranquiliser guns and 50 teams across the Sunderbans. They are capable of rescuing tigers from human inhabited areas.”    

He further said in tiger zones of the Sunderbans, it is but natural that attacks on humans take place.  “We are collecting information and trying to find out identities of the people involved in killing the tiger. The Wildlife Protection Act provides for a minimum of 12 years’ jail for killing a tiger,” Zahidul Kabir said in reply to a query.

The government has passed a 10-year “Tiger Action Plan”, he said, adding that it would help protect and increase the tiger population. “The tiger monitoring system will be strengthened as per the action plan. Besides, many other programmes will be taken up under the plan. Local people will be involved in guarding tigers from poachers and killers,” the conservator of forest said. Another USAID funded Tk. 100 crore project is being implemented in the Sunderbans to create awareness and alternate income generation among the local community, Kabir said.

The objective of the project in the regional context is to assist participating governments to build or enhance capacities and institutions. It also includes sharing the knowledge and expertise to jointly tackle illegal wildlife trade and improving the management of endangered wildlife and their habitat by addressing selected regional conservation threats.

National objectives are to strengthen the wildlife circle to tackle trans-boundary illegal trade in wildlife through protected area management, crime control, training, research, creation of awareness, monitoring and evaluation.

According to the TRCs action plan, the capacity to deal with the human-tiger conflict has to be expanded. Such conflicts may increase with tiger or prey recovery. In this regard, national and local conflict-relief funds should be put to use and all affected communities should be taught to protect tigers to increase their population.

The action plan also suggested making local communities partners in conservation of tigers.