Saturday, August 18, 2012

Poachers Pose Threat to Bangladesh's Tiger Cubs


In Bangladesh, it has been reported that while tigers face threats ranging from habitat destruction to the illegal trade in their body parts, their cubs are facing the life-threatening wrath of poachers. This was recently seen in the case of three tiger cubs in a Dhaka zoo, who were allegedly being smuggled out of the country by poachers. They were earlier found by residents inside a high-rise building in June. The residents heard the cubs grunting and squeaking while trying to climb from the ground floor. Fortunately, special security forces were able to rescue the young animals and take them to a private zoo where they were fed milk and put on display. However, due to health problems and stress from the building residents, the cubs were relocated to a specifically designed home in a botanical garden in Dhaka. Security forces then arrested a man and his mother for collecting the two cubs and keeping them until they could be smuggled out of Bangladesh. Each cub was estimated at two million taka. The recent rescue of these tiger cubs was a message for conservationists, who were not aware of the illegal trade in tiger cubs. According to Reaj Morshed, program officer of the Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh (WTB), it was the first report of tigers being captured alive by poachers. Since the rescue, the government has strengthened Bangladesh's laws for smuggling tiger cubs and enforced a seven-year sentence and a fine of 500,000 taka. As part of the effort, forest guards in the Sunderbans will be armed with new guns and trained to put a stop to poaching and smuggling of wildlife. Although this new seemed like a step towards the right direction as put by Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmad for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), other people disagreed. One of them was a local villager named Mohammad Badiuzzaman, who stated that laws to protect the forests and its inhabitants were never strictly imposed.

I very much hope that after what had happened to these tiger cubs, Bangladesh will put its laws into action. Just speaking about them and launching of campaigns will do little to help both the people and the wildlife. This news also reports that the tiger population in the Sunderbans, which is home to an estimated 300 to 500 of these majestic animals in a 10,000 square kilometer-forest, has been declining steadily. In addition to that, their home is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Without the enforcement of strict laws will lead to the Sunderbans loosing its status as a World Heritage Site, and may also impact its tourist industry. For this reason, I believe that it is absolutely essential for Bangladesh to put its laws against wildlife crimes into action instead of merely speaking about them to the public. Furthermore, in addition to targeting poachers and other people suspected of such crimes, there has to be a community outreach program in order to help save the lives of tigers and other wildlife making their home in the Sunderbans. These poachers will target just about any endangered species, regardless of what shape or size. This was especially seen in the case of these tiger cubs, who were being smuggled out of their homeland and into the hands of a would-be consumer somewhere overseas in a completely different environment. This is why it is crucial for Bangladesh and every other nation around the world to fully enforce its environmental laws against this ongoing atrocity.

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