Bangladesh needs tougher law to save Royal Bengal tigers

Last Updated: Sun, Jul 04, 2010 06:50 hrs

Wildlife enthusiasts here have mooted tougher laws, like the ones India proposes to have, to save between 300 and 500 Royal Bengal tigers in the Sundarbans.

The punishment provided in the Bangladesh Wildlife Act is a maximum of two years imprisonment with a maximum fine of Tk 2,000 ($28.8). This needs to be revised urgently, wildlife experts urged the government, United News of Bangladesh (UNB) reported.

An amendment proposed to the Wildlife Protection Act of India envisages that any illegal hunting in tiger reserves or any attempt to encroach on reserved land in the country could incur a jail term of not less than seven years and a fine up to Rs.5 million ($72,150).

Furthermore, poachers having a second run-in with the law could face much stiffer punishment, with a fine of up to Rs.7.5 million.

The world has witnessed the loss of more than 97,000 tigers over the last 100 years. Specialists say today there are less than 3,000 tigers in 14 countries.

According to the Worldwide Fund for Nature, there are some 2,100 Royal Bengal tigers alive today, of which India alone has 1,411.

Bangladesh's Sundarbans is the home of the largest single unit of Royal Bengal tigers in the world with an estimated 300-500 tigers.

Tigers are threatened in Bangladesh due to direct loss, prey depletion, and habitat degradation, said Mohammed Anwarul Islam, professor of Zoology at Dhaka University and the CEO of the Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh.

'To save the tiger, we need to save its prey population. In the Sundarbans, the spotted deer is the tiger's main prey but rampant poaching on the fringes of the Sundarbans is rapidly depleting the spotted deer population,' The Daily Star quoted him as saying.



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