With the decrease in the activities of forest robbers and poachers in the Sundarbans, experts and the forest department officials expect a rise in the number of tigers in the world's largest mangrove forest.

They think the tigers of the Sundarbans, the world's largest abode of the big majestic cat, are now well-protected and their movement is safe as the activities of forest robbers and poachers have come down to a large extent following smart patrolling in the forest.

As the Sundarbans tigers survive combating various natural disasters, there is no chance of their disappearance from the mangrove forest even if all the tigers get extinct from the rest of the world, said a wildlife expert.

As part of the government's efforts to engage people around the Sundarbans in protecting the tigers, International Tiger Day is being observed nationally outside Dhaka for the last two years. It will be observed today under the theme: "Save the tiger, save the forest, protect the Sundarbans".

According to forest department officials, tigers are being surveyed in the Sundarbans through "camera trapping" for the second time.

In 2017-2018, the images of tigers were captured installing cameras in different places under four ranges of the Sundarbans. Now, the work to analyse the images is underway.

According to the survey conducted in the Sundarbans through the "camera trapping" in 2013-2015, the number of tigers on the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans is 106.

In the Sundarbans, every tiger, known as flagship species of the forest, identifies a 14-16 sq km area as its home range for living, and tigers roam almost throughout the forest.

Forest officials said the activities of bandits and poachers have seen a decline in recent times following the introduction of smart patrolling which has ensured the safe movement of the tigers.

However, the tigers have to face different climate-related phenomena like salinity, storm-tidal surge and river waves, they said. For this, tigers sometimes invade locality.

On January 23 last, a tiger, which entered Gulishakhali village in Morelganj upazila, was beaten to death by locals.

Md Amir Hossain Chowdhury, forest conservator of Khulna region, said the forest robbers have started returning to normal life following regular drives of the forest department and law enforcement agencies.

"As a result, the tiger is much safer in the Sundarbans now. No tiger was killed by any poacher in the Sundarbans in the last two years," he said.

Prof Md Anwarul Islam, Wild Team chief executive and a teacher of Zoology department at Dhaka University, said if all the tigers are lost from the rest of the world, there is a least chance that they will become extinct from the Sundarbans. "The Sundarbans won't survive if the tigers don't survive."

He, however, underscored the need for ensuring food for tigers in the mangrove forest for their survival.

The wildlife expert called for protecting deer in the Sundarbans and reducing the movement of people in it, suggesting building a forest-centric information centre for tourists.

Prof Anwar said an adult tiger generally gives birth to three to four cubs a year. "If these tiger cubs can be protected, the number of tigers in the Sundarbans will be increased," he said, underlining the need for involving all to protect the majestic big cat.

Mahmudul Hasan, divisional forest officer of the Sundarbans East Division, said no tiger was killed by miscreants in the mangrove forest after 2015.

"There's no activity of any poaching gang in the Sundarbans as the forest department increased vigilance at the entries through which the poachers used to enter the forest."

He said they installed cameras in every 5 sq km during the first survey and they took images of tigers this time installing cameras in every 2 sq km.

Asaduzzaman Milon, former president of Sundarbans Management Committee, said several gangs of tiger poachers were active in several villages surrounding the Sundarbans. "However, there's no activity of the gangs right now."

He said people are now much aware about the conservation of forest resources which led an end to the killing of tigers.

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