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Climate change imperils Sundarbans tiger habitats

Sundarbans, the biggest mangrove forest in the world, spanning 10,000 sq kms is famed for its Bengal tiger population. Of this territory, 617 sq kms fall in Bangladesh, and the rest in India. A new research by Bangladeshi and Australian researchers has come up which states that the Royal Bengal tiger population in the Bangladesh Sundarbans could be wiped off completely by 2070 due to a combination of climate change and sea level rise.  Alarming data points to a chance that by 2050 a Ceriops decandra-dominated mangrove stretch along the India-Bangladesh border would potentially be the only refuge of the big cats in the Sundarbans, underpinning the urgency of executing transboundary measures in conservation. At present, the census using camera traps has pegged the number of tigers to be between 83 and 130 in the Bangladesh Sundarbans while in India side of the mangroves they are believed to be 86.  Climate change could drive a vegetation change/tree species shift and also trigger extreme weather events adding to the effects of sea level rise thus obliterating the big cat population in the area. Dr Y.V. Jhala, scientist at the Wildlife Institute of India, working on the monitoring of status of tigers, co-predators, prey and their habitats in India agrees with the findings of the study. “Magnitude can vary depending on simulation model parameters but threats are real and affect Indian Sundarbans as well,” Dr Jhala told Mongabay-India. Transboundary conservation measures by the Bangladesh and Indian governments are needed urgently otherwise the fate of the tiger will be the same in the entire Sundarbans.

 

As Reported by Mongabay

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