Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the nation has been under lockdown in an effort to prevent the spread of the deadly virus. An unexpected consequence of the lockdown in West Bengal is that park rangers in Sundarbans have reported a jump in sightings of tigers. The Sundarbans which encompasses large tracts of land in both West Bengal and Bangladesh is the world’s largest mangrove forest, it is spread over 10,000 square kilometres (4,000 square miles) and is also home to the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger.
According to reports, Sudhir Das, director of the Sundarbans tiger reserve has said that since the coronavirus lockdown went into effect, the sightings of tigers have gone up significantly. Das also reportedly added that during normal times the forest officials only manage to spot the big cats roughly twice a week but since the lockdown has ended tourist traffic and also grounded noisy motorboats, the officials have been seeing the big cats up to six times a week.
As per reports, the number of tigers at the Sundarbans mangrove forest, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage site, have gone up to 96 in the India part of the forest. The increase in the number of big cats was announced on May 6 by the West Bengal state forest department
According to reports, the forest official in their latest survey was able to identify 43 female tigers as well as 11 cubs through the use of 700 all-weather night-vision camera traps. India is home to 70 per cent of the world’s tiger population. According to a report last year, the government had announced that the tiger population in India had risen from 2,226 in 2014 to 2,967 in 2018.
The rise in tiger population in India in recent years has been credited to a strict ban on hunting of the big cats as well as several awareness drives. Despite the growth in tiger numbers, the increasing number of human-tiger conflicts caused by shrinking habitats has been a point of concern for conservationists.
(With Inputs from PTI) (Image Credit PTI)