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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 May, 2003, 15:34 GMT 16:34 UK
Villagers beat tiger to death
By Waliur Rahman
BBC correspondent in Dhaka

Hundreds of villagers in south-west Bangladesh have beaten a Royal Bengal tiger to death, say officials.

Bengal tiger cubs
The tiger population is dwindling
Police and government representatives say the residents of a village near the Sundarbans Forest attacked the tiger when it entered their neighbourhood.

They say the incident happened in the Sharankhola region of Bagerhat district on Wednesday.

It is the latest of a series of unnatural deaths caused to the tigers, raising concerns among conservationists about the safety of the country's wildlife.

Royal Bengal tigers are a protected species in Bangladesh and it is illegal to kill them under any circumstances.

But residents in the village of Nalbunia beat the animal to death after it attacked and wounded three people.

The medium-sized male tiger reached the village after swimming across a small river.

'No option'

Villagers told the police they had no options other than to kill the tiger after it terrorised the local residents.

They said the villagers had been panic-stricken for more than a week after the tiger carried out several attacks on their livestock.

Bengal tiger
Locals fear attacks from the tigers
Forest officials say the tiger was six years-old and about eight feet long.

Conservationists in Bangladesh say this is the latest example of a clash between people and animals in the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world.

It is the home of an estimated 300 Royal Bengal tigers, but their natural habitat is shrinking because of illegal logging and an increase in the human population.

Dr Inun Nishat of the World Conservation Union, IUCN, says the local residents and animals are now battling to establish dominance over the dwindling forest resources in the area.

Buffalo

He said the forest area has shrunk over the last two decades due to the growth of towns and villages, leading to a shortage of food for the tigers.

The majority of tigers living in the forest live on deer and wild buffalo, but Dr Nishat said a recent survey showed the number of buffalo had diminished substantially in the Sundarbans, forcing the tigers to seek alternative sources of food.

Research is also underway to monitor the exact nature of conflicts between animals and man in order to help with conservation.

Records show that at least four tigers have been killed in the Bagerhat region alone in the last two years but Dr Nishat says this is the tip of the iceberg.

He said poaching is a big problem in the forest and the actual numbers of tiger deaths is much higher.

He said the country's wild elephant population is also facing similar problems as unplanned development has led to a sharp decline in their numbers


SEE ALSO:
Zoo to release tigers and lions
28 May 03  |  South Asia
Pledge to save the Sundarbans
12 May 02  |  South Asia
Tigers kill 22 in Bangladesh
03 Apr 02  |  South Asia
New hope for Bengal tigers
17 Dec 01  |  South Asia


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