Uncovering the Mystery: The Start of the Census of Royal Bengal Tigers of the Sundarbans
Every year, the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, remains one of the biggest mysteries and promises to keep secrets about its inhabitants hidden from the rest of the world. But, on December 15, 2020 that mystery was unlocked through a census of the Royal Bengal Tigers, triggering a two-step survey destined to explore and to understand more about the home of the majestic tigers.
What is the Sundarbans Census?
The Sundarbans Census is an endeavor backed by the Bangladeshi government to measure the total population of Royal Bengal Tigers living in the Sundarbans. This census officially kicked off on December 15, 2020 through a canal survey with experts. The next step of the survey will start on January 1, 2021 and will involve camera trapping around to record images of tigers and other animals and collect data for the census.
Who is Making this Project Possible?
This project is being carried out by a team of experts comprised of four experts in areas of data analysis, canal surveying, camera trapping, and two other experts that are still being sought after. The project has a budget of $3 million and has been approved by the local Planning Commission and financed by the Ministry of Forest, Environment and Climate Change and the Ministry of Finance. A total of 200 brand new cameras are being used for the survey with an additional 300 cameras set to be acquired to replace old cameras.
What Other Projects are Part of This?
The Tiger Conservation Project is part of the Sundarbans Census which has a three-year timeline and a budget of $35.93 million. This project also includes the installation of nylon fencing to keep tigers out of inhabited areas, the construction of 12 mud forts in the forest to house tigers during cyclones and high tide, the construction of two observation towers in fire-prone areas, the provision of tools, pipes and drones for quick fire suppression, the instruction of 185 members of four range community patrol groups and 340 members of 49 village Tiger Response Teams to address tiger-man conflicts in the Sundarbans, and the provision of clothing and hiring of monthly forest workers.
This is a tremendous step forward in the efforts to preserve and increase the number of Royal Bengal Tigers in the Sundarbrans. The 2010 World Tiger Conference, the First Tiger Action Plan (2009-2017), Second Tiger Action Plan (2016-2027) and Global Tiger Forum decisions all recognize the importance this census will have in helping the future of the Royal Bengal Tigers in the Sundarbans. The results of the 2018 Census of Royal Bengal Tigers in the Sundarbrans showed there to be 114 tigers living in the area, and the hopes of all are that this year’s census will reveal an increase in numbers.