Fears of falling tiger population in the Sunderbans

Fears of falling tiger population in the Sunderbans

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Fears expressed about a possible fall in the number of Royal Bengal Tigers in the Bangladesh part of the Sunderbans has come as an alarm to environmentalists and wildlife experts in Bangladesh.
Officials of a Bangladesh-India tiger census in the Sunderbans have expressed the fear that the population of the big cat might fall in the Bangladesh part compared to the recorded population of the last census in 2004.
Official result of the census are yet to be given. The survey used camera trapping and pugmark counting methods, and officials voiced their concern based on preliminary analyses of the footages of the trap cameras.Md Zahidul Kabir, coordinator of the ‘camera trapping’ project and Divisional Forest Officer of Wildlife Conservation Circle of the Forest Department, told journalists that they are still analysing the footages of the trap cameras and the pugmarks, but based on the preliminary analysis it is feared that the tiger population has marked a fall in Bangladesh part from what was recorded in the past.
According to the last census, conducted by the government in 2004, Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans was a home to 440 tigers.
In the first phase of the Bangladesh-India joint tiger census project, completed in April this year beginning November 1, 2013, a total of 89 infrared cameras were used to capture tiger movements within a 3,000 sq km area.
The second phase of the tiger census project using camera trapping method began on November 12, 2014.
Besides, pugmarks have been collected from Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans from February 12 to March this year.
The above report published in Dhaka is based on unofficial information. Those who are involved in the survey needs to exercise caution that the information they release are not half-baked.
First of all they should make it clear as to how far the methods employed by them can be accurate in assessing the tiger population, what is the margin of error and what percentage of the information they might have collected can be taken as fully reliable.
This is not to say that tiger population cannot go down. Since the inumerators are using modern techniques like footages of infra-red cameras plus pugmarks of tigers to determine their numbers, they should also be in a position to tell why the population has gone down. There is no need to panic. There might have had been overcounting in the last census.
But before making some conclusions the survey team should establish the cause and effect relationships to make their findings more reliable than before to be acted upon for protection of the tigers that have for ages been a symbol of prestige and vigour of the people of Bangladesh. – News Desk

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