In Bangladesh there are only about 200 – 300 wild tigers left, and 160 million humans. The government recently established a 300-person tiger task force to protect the few remaining wild tigers there. They were assisted by a $36 million dollar loan from the World Bank. Forming the special tiger group was necessitated by the discovery that an organized poaching group might be at work. One poacher was found this year with tiger skins and bones, which led officials to consider he might be part of a larger operation.
Most of the Bengal tigers in Bangladesh live in the Sundarbans–an area of jungle forests and mangroves 10,000 square kilometers in size–with 6,000 of those in Bangladesh and the other portion in India. (India has about 1,100 Bengal tigers). It is one of the largest mangrove forests in the world, and yet it is now only about one-third of its original size. Habitat loss is one of the main causes of the dramatic decline of Bengal tigers. Another is poaching. Tiger skins and body parts can fetch high prices in China for some traditional medicine practices that actually have no basis in scientific fact. It appears to be based on the idea that if one ingests the body parts of a particular animal it gives the consumer the powers of that animal.
Bengal tigers can weigh over 500 pounds, and live in family units instead of prides like lions. Males don’t participate in the cub raising. They eat hoofed animals like deer and wild boar. Another threat to the last tigers is the poaching of spotted deer. It is one of their main food sources, and if it is reduced greatly, then there won’t be enough for the tigers.
The Sundarbans mangroves are the transition area between salt and freshwater ecosystems. A great array of species live there such as small fish, crabs, fidler crabs, hermit crabs, shrimps and other crustaceans that are adapted to live amongst the mangrove roots. Actually wildlife poachers are not only taking tigers for illegal trafficking, in Thailand at an airport hundreds of turtles and some crocodiles were found in suitcases on a flight from Bangladesh. The demand for exotic species is what is driving poaching in the field. That must also be addressed to help the endangered animals in demand.
Image Credit: Cburnett