Bangladesh patrols to protect Bengal tiger
Bangladesh will form patrols in the world's largest mangrove forest in a bid to stop locals beating the critically endangered Bengal tiger to death, an official said Monday.
The move follows an increase in tiger deaths in the 10,000-square-kilometre (3,860 square miles) Sunderbans forest, with dozens beaten to death over the last 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.
There are around 450 Bengal tigers in the Bangladeshi section of the Sunderbans, the world's largest remaining population in the wild, according to a 2004 government census.
The new government-approved plan, the first of its kind in the area, will lead to the formation of a 10-person patrol team in each of the hundreds of villages on the edge of the forest, which straddles 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.
Last year, nearly 30 people were killed after they were attacked by tigers while fishing or collecting honey inside the forest, according to media reports, and villagers are traditionally hostile to the tigers.
Expert Monirul Khan said tiger numbers were likely only half the government's estimate, with fatal beatings being a key factor in the slow demise of the animal.