Dhaka: Bangladesh has only 106 tigers in the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, a sharp decline from 440 in 2004 due to unchecked poaching of the endangered animals, following an India-Bangladesh survey, a top forest official said Monday.
More scientific method was used in the new Tiger census this year, which found only 106 big cats in the Sundarbans, and attributed its sharp fall in recent years to unchecked wildlife poaching, said forest conservator Dr Tapan Kumar Dey.
According to the tiger census conducted by the government in 2004, the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans was a home to 440 tigers.
Wildlife biologist Dr Monirul H Khan said the 2004 census that used pug marks to count tigers was not actually reliable and scientific method.
"So, it didn't give the exact figure of Sundarbans tigers. But, there's no doubt tiger population has declined in the Sundarbans in recent years due to rampant poaching of the big cats and for lack of proper forest management," Khan said.
Khan said his studies showed the figure was no more than 200.
Bangladesh-India Joint Tiger Census Project conducted the tiger census 2015 examining some 1,500 images and footprints of tigers taken from the Sundarbans through camera trapping and found the horribly low figure of tigers, Dhaka Tribune reported.
Earlier, the preliminary findings of the analysis of experts also feared that the new census will find less tigers in the Sundarbans than the previous ones.
Experts observe that the loss of habitat, unchecked wildlife poaching, animal-human conflict in the forest and lack of management of forest are the main reasons behind the rapid fall in the tiger population.
According to the Forest Department data, at least 49 tigers were killed in the last 14 years (2001-2014) since the illegal poaching of wildlife and tiger-human conflict is on the rise in the Sundarbans, the country's only natural tiger habitat with a range of 6,017 square kilometers.
The new two-year tiger census project was carried out under 'Strengthening Regional Cooperation for Wildlife Protection in Asia Project' with financial support from the World Bank.
In the first phase of the Bangladesh-India joint tiger census project, completed in April this year beginning November 1, 2013, some 89 infrared cameras were used to capture tigers' movements within a 3,000-sqkm area in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans.
The second phase of the tiger census project using camera trapping method began on November 12, 2014.
The World Wildlife Fund says tigers worldwide are in serious danger of becoming extinct. Their numbers have fallen from 1,00,000 in 1900 to around 3,200 now.