Saleh Noman, Back from Sundarbans
Conflict between humans and tigers is constantly decreasing around the Sundarbans, the world's largest natural mangrove forest, and a world heritage declared by the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization, UNESCO.
Forest Department statistics show only 14 incidents occurred in 2017, the lowest in last ten years, that left two dead and two Injured. Locals say, alternate livelihoods in the areas will ensure safety for both the national symbol, the Royal Bengal Tiger, and human life of nearby settlements.
According to Forest Department, around 3500 thousand people of 500 thousand families depend on the Sundarbans for their earning by organizing tourism, fishing and collecting honey and wood.
Manik Mondal, a resident of Munshiganj in Shyamnagar upazila of Satkhira district, who experienced fighting with tigers multiple times in his life said, " We have to go to the forest despite the risks. Now I have stopped going there, but many of my relatives have to go to the forest because they have no other alternative earning source."
Alomati Mondal (50), mother of two also a widow in the area, said that after her husband Ashish Mondal was killed in a tiger attack a few years ago none of her two sons is dependent on forests for living.
She said, “I forbid the sons to go into the forest to catch fish taking risk on life. Now they are involved in Curb farming.”
But Ruhul Amin (65) a resident of Harinagor village of Munshigunj union said, “All my life I have fished in rivers and canals, collected honey in the forest, other than this, we have no other way to live.”
The Sundarbans, home to the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger( Panthera Tigers), is about one third rivers and canals connected with Bay of Bengal and located over 10,000 Square Kilometers in Bangladesh and India.
Out of this, Bangladesh covers 6,000-square kilometers of which 52 percent is protected area where all types of people's access is forbidden. In other areas, people can enter with the permission of the forest department for tourism, fishing, honey collection and other works.
According to the forest department, 184 died and 84 were injured in human - tiger conflict in Sundarbans between 2008- 2017. In the last ten years, the highest number of 266 conflicts occurred in 2012, killing 36 people and two tigers. In 2008-2017, a total of eight tigers were killed by locals.
“But there is no incidence of conflict reported in 2018 and 2019. Recently, the government adopted the second Tiger Action Plan 2018-2027,” said Madinatul Ahsan Divisional Forest Officer DFO of Wildlife and Nature Conservation Division Khulna of Department of Forest “the national symbol tiger can be protected from extinction if enough food in forest can be ensured.”
“We have been motivated by the people who are dependent on forest, to talk on how to avoid the Tigers zone in the forest, and how to protect themselves when tigers attack them. It is bringing result and the conflict is reducing, he added.
The forest department says that the number of tigers in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans is 114, 106 even three years ago.
Azizur Rahman, a supervisor of Wild Team, an organization working on reducing human- tiger conflict in Sundarban said, recently tigers are not coming into human settlements that means the animals are getting enough food."
“It is estimated that the tiger population has also increased as the activities of the robbers and smugglers in the forest have reduced,” he added.