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Tigers in Bangladesh threatened by poachers, declining habitats

According to Bangladesh’s Forest Department, at least 49 tigers were killed between 2001 and 2014.

By Elizabeth Shim
Tigers in Bangladesh threatened by poachers, declining habitats
There are now fewer than 2,300 Bengal tigers in the wild – primarily in India and Bangladesh, but smaller populations inhabit Nepal, China, Bhutan and Myanmar. Photo by Orhan Cam/Shutterstock

DHAKA, Bangladesh, July 27 (UPI) -- Poaching and declining wildlife habitats are leading to a plunge in the Bengal tiger population in Bangladesh.

The South Asian country bordering India now has just 106 tigers in its side of the Sunderbans forest, the BBC reported.

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Another 74 tigers of the same species inhabit the Indian side of the habitat, but the number marks a sharp drop from the 440 tigers that were registered in 2005.

The number from Bangladesh's wildlife conservator Tapan Kumar Dey, while lower, also could be more accurate when taking into account the methodology used to produce the latest tiger census, United News of Bangladesh reported.

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In order to gather the latest statistic, wildlife specialists used hidden cameras to count tigers, rather than using tiger paw prints to analyze the population.

The retired method of tiger counting involved analyzing animal prints, but the tracks were ultimately difficult to locate and integrate into a form of reliable data.

Bangladesh's tiger population has dwindled due to poaching, a lucrative trade that has drawn gangs of hunters into the forest.

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The tigers are valued for their skin and body parts, experts say.

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"The numbers have declined largely because of poaching, which is the main threat to the tigers in Sunderbans," Anwarul Islam, a zoology professor at Dhaka University, told the BBC.

According to Bangladesh's Forest Department, at least 49 tigers were killed between 2001 and 2014 – a statistic with serious implications for the species in Sundarbans, which is the country's only natural tiger habitat.

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There are now less than 2,300 Bengal tigers in the wild – primarily in India and Bangladesh, but smaller populations inhabit Nepal, China, Bhutan and Myanmar.

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