World Tiger Day: Limit tourism to protect Sundarbans’ biodiversity
On occasion of World Tiger Day yesterday, activists and government officials underscored the need to restrict tourism in the Sundarbans to protect the core tiger breeding ground.
They said the number of tigers is decreasing fast and the government should be serious to increase their population in the Sundarbans and reach the goal set in the "Tiger Action Plan".
They came up with the suggestions in a webinar organised by Bangladesh Forest Department (BFD).
Speaking as chief guest, Habibun Nahar, deputy minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry, said uninterrupted entrance of people into the Sundarbans must be reduced.
"We have to ensure tigers have the suitable environment for their breeding. Sometimes tourist enter the forest with music playing on loudspeakers, which is definitely a disruption for the wildlife. Such practises must stop," she said.
The deputy minister said when Covid-induced restriction was relaxed a few months back, a group of around 400 tourists led by a minister's son tried to enter the forest on a ship, with loudspeakers blaring.
"They tried from afternoon till evening, but were refused entry like that. Rather, they were asked to be divided in small groups and enter the forest alternately. There was a time when we used to do whatever we wanted to do in the Sundarbans, but those times are over," she added.
She said instead of ships, non-mechanised small tourist boats are preferred.
Meanwhile, she also mentioned her ministry's lack of budget as an obstacle.
Mostafa Kamal, secretary of the ministry, said it was necessary to curb the number of irresponsible tourists in the name of ecotourism.
Muqeed Majumder Babu, chairperson of Prakriti O Jibon Foundation, said, "We must be serious about increasing the tiger population in the Sundarbans in order to reach the goal set in Tiger Action Plan."
51 TIGERS KILLED IN 20 YEARS
In his keynote presentation, Abu Naser Md Mohsin, divisional forest officer of West Sundarbans in Khulna, said 51 tigers were killed from 2001 to 2021 in the Sundarbans. Some 212 people also died in tiger attacks during the period.
He said at the beginning of the last century, Bangladesh had tiger populations in 13 districts. A 100 years later, it is now limited to only three.
In his presentation, Mostafa Firoz, professor of Zoology at Jahangirnagar University, said tiger conservation will be impossible if the overall biodiversity of the mangrove forest is not protected.
He said ecotourism must stop at Kotka and Kochikhali point to protect the core breeding point of tigers and keep its biodiversity undisturbed.
"The forest department must increase its capacity and use the latest technology to monitor the tiger population. The capacity of its filed-level staff must also be developed, along with full logistical support," he opined.