Officials of forest department and other government agencies including law enforcement and judiciary at a national dialogue on Tuesday underscored the need for effective coordination among the agencies and neighboring countries to check poaching of tigers and save their habitats in the Sunderbans.
They said strengthening the capacity of forest department and coast guard with increased manpower and modern equipment and creating alternative livelihood for the people living near the Sunderbans could save the mangrove forest and its inhabitants.
The United States Agency for International Development in Bangladesh, forest department and Wildteam jointly organised the dialogue on tiger conservation at Pan Pacific Sonargaon hotel in the capital.
Environment and forests affairs minister Anwar Hossain Manju in his welcome speech said that many could think that it would be an impossible task for Bangladesh to protect the tigers amid the growing pressure of its population.
‘But it is possible. Once upon a time many used to think that Bangladesh would not be able to come out from its extreme poverty but we managed to come out of such situation…We’ll also be able to conserve the tigers,’ he said.
Manju highlighted the importance of regional cooperation and Bangladesh was set to attend a regional dialogue in New Delhi of India next month to discuss the conservation of tigers.
Gary F Collins, chief of party of USAID’s Bagh Activity, said that the US government had channeled $13 million towards tiger conservation under the Bagh project.
Anwarul Islam, chief executive of WildTeam and professor of zoology at Dhaka University, said that lack of scientific monitoring system, lack of capacity and local intelligence network of forest department and lack of alternative livelihood opportunities for local people were hampering the conservation efforts for tigers in the Sunderbans.
He said the numbers of tigers reduced to 106 in 2015 from 440 in 2004 in the Sunderbans mainly for the continued poaching and destroying its habitats.
Chief conservator of forests Md Yunus Ali said once the tigers used to roam around the country but Sunderbans was now the only habitat for tigers.
Yunus, however, said they had taken an initiative to form wildlife crime control unit comprising members of different law enforcing agencies to conserve the wildlife including tigers.
Atiq Rahman, executive director of Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, stressed the need for making the whole area of Sunderbans in Bangladesh and India habitable for tigher.
Representatives from law enforcers, judiciary, ministries concerned, NGOs and the experts joined the open discussion.
Source: New Age