Bangladesh food

Food shortages, dry rivers force Sundarbans tigers to seek easy prey

A tiger has roamed the vicinity of Khejurbaria village under Sharankhola Upazila of Bagerhat, in the lap of the Sundarbans since May 5 for about a week, forcing residents of the village and surrounding areas to live in fear.

Locals said that the Bhola River, which lies between the village and the forest, is drying up, that it has actually become easier for wild animals in the forest to come and look for food in human habitats.

Nirmal Kumar Pal, Divisional Forestry Officer with the Department of Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation, agreed with the theory.

“As the rivers and canals between forest and human habitats are dried up and filled, wild animals move easily through the locality,” he said.

On March 31 and April 24, a buffalo and a cow were attacked by tigers respectively in Dakshin Rajapur village and Dhansagar villages under the same Upazila.

Md Asaduzzaman, officer of the Forest Department’s Sundarbans Sharankhola station, said recently that they were not only seeing tigers, but also deer, pythons, crocodiles and wild boars descending on nearby localities in search of food.

“If we catch them, we release them back into the forest later,” he said.

But wildlife experts said it’s not just food that drives tigers near human habitats.

Explaining the trend, Professor AK Fazlul Haque, a teacher and researcher in the Forestry and Technological Discipline of Khulna University, postulated: “In the forest, a tigress hunts her cubs after they grow up. The cubs are looking for their own territories to dominate and control Some of these young tigers may have chosen the forests adjacent to the locality as their favorite territories and from time to time people from the neighboring villages see them.

He does not, however, deny the fact that the food source in the forest is becoming scarce due to rampant poaching.

“Poachers are killing deer, the tigers’ main food source, at a staggering level. No wonder tigers venture into human habitats to look for food since they cannot find any in their own habitat.

Abdullah Harun Chowdhury, a professor in the department of environmental sciences at the same university, has another theory.