A new study, published 1 May 2019, in the Journal, Science of the Total Environment, highlights that the Bengal tiger population of Bangladesh’s Sundarbans region, could be wiped out with climate change. Scientists predict that the habitats, which Bengal tigers rely, could be destroyed by 2070 from our warming climate. The findings support other studies that predict similar outcomes for wildlife in the Sundarbans. The study can be accessed here.
The Sundarbans, a region of 4,000 square miles of marshy land in Bangladesh and India, was declared a UNESCO Heritage site in 1987, and hosts the world’s largest mangrove forest and a rich ecosystem which support several hundred-animal species, including the endangered Bengal tiger. The region holds one of the largest remaining populations of wild tigers in the world, the researchers found. Around 70% of the land is just a few feet above sea level, and most at risk from climate change.
The Australian and Bangladeshi researchers’ findings use the climate scenarios developed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for its simulation models. In October 2018, the UN’s IPCC published a major report highlighting that if greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) continued at their current rate, then warming as much as 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industralised levels by 2040 could result.
In April 2019, Bangladesh hosted the 9th Bangladesh Travel and Tourism Fair (BTTF), where President M Abdul, (click here), highlighted the natural heritage of Bangladesh, including the Bengal Tigers, as an opportunity to attract more tourists…
“Bangladesh is a place of immense natural beauty with the ….world’s longest sea beach, largest mangrove forest Sundarbans, Royal Bengal Tiger, Kaptai Lake, different archeological artifacts, lucrative tea estates, different species of fishes, rivers and many other glorious things, which have been reflecting (our) country’s heritage and image from century to century…. The heritage and natural beauty of Bengal, rites and customs draw attention of the tourists”.
The researchers of the study highlight a number of potential strategies to ensure the long-term survival and conservation of the Bengal tiger in the Bangladesh Sundarbans; including:
- enhancing terrestrial protected area coverage;
- regular monitoring;
- law enforcement; and
- awareness-building among local residents.
The study suggests the need for global action on adapting and mitigating against climate change, at scale and speed, to protect against the rapid loss of habitat that underpin the Bengal tiger populations, as well as, Bangladesh’s vision of future tourism growth based on wildlife tourism.