India’s claims that Sundarbans tigers are wandering off into their territory due to lack of food are incorrect, according to the Bangladesh Forest Department.
Sundarbans West Forest Department Officer Dr Abu Naser Mohsin said there is ample food for Bengal Tigers in the forest.
According to the Forest Department, deer and pigs in abundance roam the 6,017 square kilometres of the forest and are the main source of food for the tigers.
They said that the tigers no longer go near human settlements on the Bangladesh side, let alone India. In fact, there are records of two Indian tigers crossing over into Bangladesh.
“The tigers prowl on either side of the Raimangal River. After 2018, the number of tigers and deer increased in the forest, which has now become free of pirates,” said Dr Mohsin.
He added that deer hunting has been stopped and the forest department will be carrying out a new survey on the number of tigers from November as the project has been approved.
“We are planning to allocate 300 cameras for tiger counting,” he said.
According to the official, every tiger has its own territory, and the tigers will not cross over to other areas unless they are injured.
“The tigers in the Sundarbans will not go to Koyra or Satkhira. If the tiger of one area goes to another territory, the animals will fight,” he added.
A 2005 study showed that two or three tigresses occupy 15-17 square kilometres of area, but only one male tiger covers the same space.
The Sundarbans has the capacity to hold around 200 to 220 tigers. A 2018 survey showed that there were 114 tigers in the forest.
“It is being estimated that the number of deer has increased in the Sundarbans,” Dr Mohsin said.
According to him, tourists can now see ample deer and around four or five tigers at the same time.
“So, if anyone says that Bangladeshi tigers go over to West Bengal or vice versa, it’s never possible.”
In 2011 and 2021, West Bengal researchers saw that two tigers from their territory came over to the Bangladesh end. “But there has never been an incident of Bangladeshi tigers crossing over to West Bengal.”
On Thursday, Jyotomoy Mallick, the forest minister of West Bengal, claimed in the legislative assembly that a large number of tigers had crossed over to West Bengal in search of food.
He said that the number of tigers had increased by at least 27, claiming they attack villages whenever there is a shortage of food.