October 4, 2010

Bangladesh Tigers Found To Be Much Smaller

A recent study has found that tigers living in Bangladesh mangrove forests are only about half the weight of other wild Bengal tigers in South Asia.

According to research by US Fish and Wildlife Service, the average weight of female tigers in the Sundarbans forests was 170 pounds. But other Bengal tigers in the wild weighed almost 310 pounds on average.

A possible reason for the Sundarbans tigers being so much smaller is that they typically eat smaller deer.

Researchers believe the tigers found in the mangrove forest, which runs from Bangladesh to India, could be among the smallest tigers in the world.

The Bangladesh Forest Department, working with researchers from the University of Minnesota in the US, weighed three Sundarbans tigers for the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Two of the tigers were captured and sedated, and the third was killed by villagers. It is not clearly known why the Sundarbans tigers are so small, said Adam Barlow, one of the authors of the research.

"This could be related to the small size of deer available to tigers in the Sundarbans, compared to the larger deer and other prey available to tigers in other parts," Barlow told BBC News.

Between 300 and 500 Bengal tigers live in the Bangladesh side of the Sundarbans alone. They are isolated from any other tiger population by up to 190 miles.

Critically endangered, only about 3,500 tigers remain in the wild worldwide -- less than a third of them breeding females.


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