March 29, 2010

Bangladesh To Form Tiger Watch Patrols

An official said on Monday that Bangladesh would form patrols in the world's largest mangrove forest in an attempt to stop locals from beating the endangered Bengal tiger to death.

According to the AFP news agency, there has been in increase in tiger deaths in the 3,869-square-miles of the Sunderbans forest.  Dozens of tigers have been beaten to death over the past decade after wandering into local villages.

"It's impossible to conserve these rare tigers unless we involve villagers to help protect the animal," said Abdul Motaleb, the government's forest conservation chief.

According to a 2004 government census, there are about 450 Bengal tigers in the Bangladeshi section of the Sunderbans, which is the world's largest remaining population in the wild.

The new government-approved plan will lead to the formation of a 10-person patrol team in each of the hundreds of villages on the edge of the forest.  This forest lies around the Bangladesh-India border.

"The patrol teams will inform forest officials as soon as a tiger enters their village. They'll also persuade the villagers not to harm the animals," the official said.

According to media reports, tigers killed nearly 30 people last year after they were attacked while fishing or collecting honey inside the forest.

Expert Monirul Khan said tiger numbers were most likely just half of the government's estimate, with fatal beatings being a key factor in the slow demise of the animal.