Camera installation in Sundarbans to begin soon

Camera installation in Sundarbans to begin soon

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Bagerhat – The installation of cameras in the Sundarbans will begin soon to conduct an integrated tiger census using camera trapping method to access tiger population in the mangrove forest.
“In the first phase, 400 cameras will be installed in the Satkhira range of the Sundarbans West Zone, identifying the locations where tigers frequently move around,” divisional forest officer of Khulna (wildlife management and nature conservation) Md Madinul Ahsan told UNB. UNB news agency reported
He said the installation of cameras may begin anytime during November 23-28 next while the member of six trained teams of the Bangladesh Forest Department will be involved in camera trapping.
According to official sources, the new tiger census will be a robust survey, which will identify the possible accurate number of big cats in the Sundarbans.
The 2015 tiger census was conducted through camera trapping, covering only 31 percent area of the mangrove forest, but the new census will be carried out covering almost all parts of the Sundarbans following more scientific method in counting tigers, they said.
Madinul Ahsan said camera trapping to count tigers in the Sundarbans West Zone will continue up to February 2017 while the images of wildlife, including tigers, will be captured over the next three months. And then cameras will be installed to do so in the Sundarbans East Zone in November 2017, he added.
Two American experts of Washington-based Conservation Biology Institution will monitor the census under the Bengal Tiger Conservation Activity Project (Bagh Activity). In collaboration with the Forest Department, USAID’s Bagh Activity is being implemented by Wildteam with technical support from Smithsonian Institution and Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS).
Forest conservator Jahir Uddin Ahmed (Sundarbans circle) has been appointed as its project director.
Jahir Uddin said this year tigers will be monitored by capturing images of the big cats while the movement, the trend of breeding and density of the tigers in the Sundarbans would be known analysing the images of tigers captured by cameras.
According to the Tiger Census 2015, the tiger population declined to only 106 in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans in 2015 while it was 440 in 2004. But, forest officials claimed that tiger breeding has increased in the world’s largest mangrove forest in recent days since tiger cubs are found roaming at Nilkomol, Kachikhali and Satkhira ranges of the forest.
Sundarbans is the lone natural habitat to tigers. Wildlife is currently facing various troubles in the country due to unchecked poaching and destruction of natural forests. Official data show that a total of 251 cases were registered by the Forest Department under the Wildlife Protection Act in last seven years (March 12, 2007 to April 5, 2015).
Forest Department data shows at least 50 tigers were killed in the last 14 years (2001-2015) since the illegal poaching of wildlife and tiger-human conflict is on the rise in the Sundarbans, the country’s only natural tiger habitat with a range of 6,017 square kilometers.
But, no one is yet to be punished with the minimum penalty the Wildlife Act allows. Besides, about 232 people were killed in tiger-human conflict during the period.
Wildteam chief executive Prof Dr Anwarul Islam said wildlife poachers and smugglers are active more in the Sundarbans West Zone, so patrolling of the forest department should be strengthened in the area to protect wild animals.

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