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Jul 30

Sundarban tigers on vacation: Minister

Amid growing concern over rapid fall in the tiger population in the Sundarbans, the world’s biggest mangrove located in Bangladesh following a recent census report, environment and forests minister Anwar Hossain Manju yesterday said in a lighter vein: “Most of the missing Bengal tigers have gone on vacation to the Indian part of forest. They will surely return to Bangladesh.”

Referring to recent census of tiger population in the Sundarbans, the minister said there is no possibility that the number of big cats has somehow been reduced greatly.

The tiger population in Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans has sharply declined to 106 from 440 in 2004, confirmed a top forest official quoting the tiger census 2015 early this week. Forest conservator Tapan Kumar Dey said a more scientific method was used in the new census, which found only 106 big cats in the Sundarbans, and attributed its sharp fall in recent years to unchecked wildlife poaching. A major portion of the forest lies in Bangladesh.

“There’re many more tigers captured and living in captivity than the tiger population living in the Sundarbans. So, how will tigers disappear from the country?” the minister said while addressing a function in the capital.

He said the forest department will steps to conserve tigers in captivity and increase their number.

Bangladesh Forest Department organised a function marking the Global Tiger Day.

Addressing the programme as the chief guest, Anwar Hossain Manju said: “Tigers won’t disappear from the Sundarbans, the country’s only natural tiger habitat, in my life-time.”

“When the tiger population decreases in the Sundarbans, we (the ministry of environment and forests) are blamed…Media publish reports in a rhetorical manner saying the Sundarbans is being destroyed,” the minister bemoaned.

He, however, agreed that the environment of the Sundarbans is adversely being affected by socio-political changes.

Manju said a large number of people live near the Sundarbans and the forest dwellers depend on its resources to earn their livelihood.

“As forest dwellers along the Sundarbans are increasing, we are facing huge challenges to conserve the forest. We must provide alternative livelihood options to the forest dwellers,” he said.

The environment and forests minister said there is no alternative to cutting trees to meet the household fuel demand, so people are compelled to felling trees in the mangrove forest to collect wood.

Deputy minister for environment and forests Abdullah Al Islam, chief conservator of forest Mohammad Yunus Ali and forest conservator Tapan Kumar Dey, , spoke at the function.

Source: Gulf times