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article imageBangladesh hoping to protect Bengal tigers

By Lynn Curwin     Jun 14, 2011 in Environment
A special force is being set up in Bangladesh to save animals such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, amid evidence that poachers now pose an increased threat to the big cats.
Earlier this year a poacher was arrested with tiger skins and bones.
"The forest department staff in Bangladesh need more training, because now the poachers are very sophisticated," the BBC quoted Minister of Environment and Forests Hasan Mahmud as saying.
"Their sophistication has been increased but the sophistication of the forest department has not been increased over the last couple of years. So, we have to train them and we have to equip them."
The 300-member Wildlife Crime Control unit will work mainly around the Sundarbans mangrove forests, which is believed to be home to about 400 tigers. With an area of 6,000 sq kilometres, the Sundarbans is the world's largest mangrove forest.
Terra Daily reported that the unit will be equipped with modern weaponry and 38 patrol boats.
Destruction of habitat has been a threat to tigers worldwide for many years, reducing space where the animals can live and bringing them into contact with humans. Because people are causing a reduction in natural prey for the tigers, they look for other food sources- and this sometimes includes cattle and people.
"In the last 100 years or so, the forest cover, and therefore the space available for tigers, has been greatly reduced," states the Sundarbans Tiger Project. "Although in many countries this deforestation has slowed down or stopped, the tigers are far from safe. Poaching in particular, is a huge problem in many areas. There is a high price on the tigers’ head driven by a demand for products made from its different body parts. Some people still want to use tiger bones for medicinal use and the skins are still marks of wealth in some places. Much of the demand comes from markets in China, Taiwan, and South East Asia."
Tigers are in trouble around the world. The Zoological Society of London reports that "100 years ago there were around 100,000 wild tigers in the world, but the number has plummeted to just 3,200 today."
A Digital Journal article last year reported that wild tigers could become extinct in as little as 12 years.
Tigers are usually solitary animals that avoid contact with humans. They usually mate between the age of three and five, and cubs stay with their mother for 18 months to two years. When people report seeing adult tigers together it is usually a female with her offspring.
In October, it was reported that a study found tigers in the Sundarbans forests weighed only about half as much as those in other parts of South Asia, with females averaging 76.7kg (170lb).
More about Tigers, Tiger, Poaching, Bangladesh
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