The Forest Department said that it has targeted to achieve zero poaching in the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest and home to the critically endangered Bengal Tigers.
The department made the announcement at a ceremony organised to mark World Tiger Day at Bon Bhaban in the capital on Friday (29 July), reports The Statesman.
"Once upon a time, Bangladesh had tigers in various regions. But over time, the animals have disappeared except Sundarbans. The existence of tigers would make the forest safer, as people won't dare to encroach the forest. We have to think about reintroducing or translocating tigers in other areas of the country," Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Shahab Uddin said at the programme.
Department officials said that they want to follow the example of Nepal, as the Himalayan nation is the first to achieve this conservation feat.
Taking part in the discussion, Iqbal Abdullah Harun, additional secretary of environment, forest and climate change ministry said they will give a green light on the matter after receiving an official letter from forest officers.
Mihir Kumar, conservator of forest (CF) of Khulna Circle, said they are doing well to protect the Sundarbans tigers, as the area saw 8% increase in tiger population since 2015.
"The government upped the punishment for tiger killing and poaching — from two years' imprisonment to seven years', and from Tk 1 lakh monetary fine to Tk 10 lakh. It declared 52 percent territories of Sundarbans as protected areas. The department initiated smart patrolling and formed 49 village tiger response teams to reduce tiger-human conflict," he said.
Around 46 tigers have died in the forest since 2001; 8 died of natural causes, while 13 were killed by poachers, 5 were killed by locals and one died during cyclone Sidr, said data from Sundarbans Divisional Forest Office (East).
Zoologist Monirul H Khan, professor of zoology at Jahangirnagar University, said globally, the tiger population saw an upward trend. He said the majestic feline has gone extinct in three countries including Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, with Malaysia losing 80% of its tiger population.
"In our estimates, Sundarbans can accommodate around 200 tigers, given the availability of prey," Monirul H Khan said.
80% of poaching goes unreported in Sundarbans, he added.
The number of Bengal tigers surviving in their natural habitat on Sundarbans' Bangladesh side is currently 114.
The Sundarbans once had the largest number of tigers in the world in a single place.
However, due to deforestation and poaching, these majestic wild cats have been identified as an "endangered" species.