Nijhum Dwip to have sanctuary for Bengal Tigers
Dhaka, July 29 (UNB)
The government has planned to introduce the Bengal tiger to the densely deer-populated forests like Nijhum Dwip to boost tiger population as well as to maintain the balance of the ecosystem in the forests.
“We’re considering introducing tigers to the highly deer-populated forests like Nijhum Dwip. We’ve already talked to the World Bank in this regard,” Environment and Forests Minister Dr Hasan Mahmud told a discussion at city’s Osmani Memorial Auditorium on Sunday morning.
The Department of Forest under the Ministry of Environment and Forests will organise the discussion, marking the Global Tiger Day – a global event to raise awareness for tiger conservation.
This year’s theme of the day is ‘Save Sundarbans Tiger Landscape’.
Environment and Forests secretary Mesbah ul Alam, vice chancellor of Dhaka University Prof Dr AAMS Arefin Siddique and IUCN country representative Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmad, forest conservator Tapan Kumar Dey and associate professor of Jahangirnagar University Dr Monirul Hasan Khan, among others, spoke at the discussion. Chief Conservator of Forest M Yunus Ali presided.
Speaking as the chief guest, Dr Hasan Mahmud said as the Forest Department has increased its vigilance in the forests to check wildlife poaching and smuggling and the deer are breeding in large numbers in the Nijhum Dwip every year, the deer population is increasing day by day in the forest.
“As tigers are used to eating deer meat, tigers should be introduced to Nijhum Dwip to maintain the balance of ecosystem in the forest,” he said.
Referring to the historical presence of the Bengal tigers in the country, the Environment and Forests Minister said once tigers were found all over the country, even near Dhaka, but there are now only 440 tigers in the Sundarbans, according to the Tiger Survey 2004.
He said the Global Tiger Initiative announced a plan to double the world’s tiger population by 2022, but it is quite impossible to increase tiger population that much in Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, due to its small size.
Terming the Sundarbans the world’s most densely tiger populated forest, Hasan Mahmud said one tiger lives on average in 200 square kilometers of forests in Russia where only 15-20 kilometers in the Sundarbans.
He said as tiger foot prints are currently used to survey tigers in the Sundarbans and it is not a scientific method of tiger survey, the government will set up cameras to count tigers in the tiger habitat.
The Forests Minister said the government has taken a number of initiatives to protect tigers, wildlife, biodiversity and ecosystem in the Sundarbans. “We signed two protocols with India to protect the common Sundarbans and tigers. We have decided to provide ‘risk allowance’ among those who work in the Sundarbans.”
He said the government introduced compensation for the victims of wild animal attacks (tiger and elephant) last year. “We’ve already distributed Tk 50 lakh among the victims.”
Hasan Mahmud stressed the need for involving people in forest management and creating mass awareness to protect tigers as well as the country’s forests. “We must conserve the ecosystem of the forests to ensure a livable planet for the future generation.”
About the extinction of tiger species, he said there were about 100,000 tigers in the planet in the beginning of the last century (100 years ago) and now the number declined to about 4000. “If the trend continues, tigers will be extinction from the planet one day,” Hasan said.
Tiger (Panthera tigris) population, on average, has declined 70 percent across the world, including Bangladesh, in the last 30 years, according to the Living Planet Report 2012.
The Living Planet Index for tigers in the Report said that forced to compete for space in some of the most densely populated regions on the earth, the tiger’s range has also declined to just 7 percent of its former extent.
Tigers are listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN, 2011), and estimates endorsed by the Global Tiger Recovery Programme suggest there are only between 3,200 and 3,500 adult tigers remaining in the wild (Global Tiger Initiative, 2011).
Tigers are threatened by poaching, retaliatory killings, habitat loss and depletion of its prey base throughout its range. The most pronounced population declines, reported in recent years, are those located outside of the protected areas.