Previously a supply nation for dwell tigers and their components, Bangladesh has reworked into each a shopper market and a worldwide transit hub for the unlawful commerce, a brand new examine reveals.The shift is fueled by native demand from a rising elite, international connections, and cultural fascination with tiger merchandise, and facilitated by improved transport infrastructure networks which have allowed two-way move of tiger components by means of Bangladesh’s airports, seaports and land border crossings.Despite some progress in curbing tiger poaching and smuggling over the previous twenty years, enforcement stays weak and poaching continues, particularly within the Sundarbans mangrove forest.Experts say there must be broader collaboration amongst state businesses, worldwide organizations and different nations to fight wildlife trafficking extra successfully.
DHAKA — Bangladesh’s robust financial progress over the previous twenty years has lifted tens of millions of the nation’s residents out of poverty. It’s additionally led to a booming elite class — one with an more and more voracious, and illicit, urge for food for tiger components.
Bangladesh is likely one of the vary nations of the endangered Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris), and whereas traditionally home poaching of the large cats for his or her physique components was pushed by demand from abroad, immediately there’s a thriving native market fueling the unlawful commerce, in response to a latest examine.
“Historically, Bangladesh served as a serious provider of dwell tigers and physique components,” examine lead creator Nasir Uddin, from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden in Yunnan, China, instructed Mongabay. “But lately, we’ve seen a regarding pattern: an increase in home consumption of tiger components amongst prosperous people, each residents and international nationals primarily based in Bangladesh.”
The examine identifies “[e]lite Bangladeshis [as] crucial shopper group.” Their rising impression on the commerce means Bangladesh is not simply an exporting nation for tiger components, but additionally an importer, with tigers being poached in India and Myanmar to feed the demand in Bangladesh.
“Adding to the area’s vulnerability to tiger trafficking, the shut socio-cultural ties between communities in Bangladesh and its neighbors play a big function within the commerce of tigers and their components,” Uddin stated.
The examine discovered that tiger skins, bones, enamel and dried meat are essentially the most sought-after merchandise, usually smuggled by means of Bangladesh’s airports, seaports and land border crossings. Image by Ryan Moehring / USFWS by way of Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
The speedy growth of worldwide transport hyperlinks has helped facilitate this smuggling, successfully connecting native merchants to a worldwide community of consumers and sellers. This has amplified the dimensions of the unlawful commerce and sophisticated efforts to dismantle it, the examine says.
The analysis reveals that Bangladesh additionally provides tiger components to fifteen nations, together with these with a large Bangladeshi diaspora. India, China and Malaysia prime the listing, adopted by nations just like the U.Ok., Germany, Australia and Japan. The examine discovered that tiger skins, bones, enamel and dried meat are essentially the most sought-after merchandise, usually smuggled by means of Bangladesh’s airports, seaports and land border crossings.
There’s proof that dwell tiger cubs are additionally being trafficked, in response to a latest report by the Wildlife Justice Commission (WJC). It means that cubs fetch the next value than grownup tigers, starting from $7,648 to $17,500 per cub (excluding supply). In one case, merchants supplied to ship a cub from Thailand to Bangladesh by way of air for an extra $1,000.
Md. Sanaullah Patwary, head of Bangladesh’s Wildlife Crime Control Unit (WCCU) below the Forest Department, stated wildlife trafficking continues to pose an immense problem.
“The range of ethnic communities inside Bangladesh, every with their very own cultural and non secular beliefs relating to animal components, fuels the demand for this unlawful commerce,” he stated. “Furthermore, Bangladesh’s restricted assets and monitoring capability in comparison with its neighboring nations make it a lovely transit level for worldwide prison gangs.”
Confiscated packaged tiger merchandise. The shift is fueled by native demand from a rising elite, international connections, and cultural fascination with tiger merchandise, and facilitated by improved transport infrastructure networks. Images by Ryan Moehring / USFWS by way of Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
A fancy battle for conservation
Bangladesh’s transition from being merely a supply nation for tiger components to a trafficking vacation spot is comparatively latest. A 2022 report by TRAFFIC, the wildlife commerce monitor, recognized Bangladesh among the many hotspots for seizures of tiger contraband over the previous twenty years.
Between January 2000 and June 2022, in response to the report, there have been 36 incidents of tiger seizures in Bangladesh, involving 50 tigers confiscated. During this era, simply six individuals had been jailed and 4 fined for his or her involvement within the trafficking.
The Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, which Bangladesh shares with India, is a key tiger habitat. Pirate gangs dominated tiger poaching within the area till 2017, when the Bangladeshi authorities’s antipiracy marketing campaign succeeded in breaking apart the gangs. However, this success created a vacuum that was quickly crammed by dozens of specialist tiger-poaching groups, leaving the Sundarbans tigers nonetheless in danger.
“With the chance of extortion and theft from pirates gone, these tiger-poaching teams elevated the frequency of opportunistic and focused tiger poaching within the forest,” Uddin stated.
Abu Naser Mohsin Hossain, the divisional forest officer overseeing the Sundarbans, stated poaching within the Sundarbans has decreased considerably for the reason that 2017 antipiracy crackdown. The TRAFFIC report helps this, reporting a 75% discount in trafficking from 2018 to 2021 in comparison with the earlier 4 years.
The Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest, which Bangladesh shares with India, is a key tiger habitat. Image by Kaushik Ghosh by way of PixaHive (Public area).
Concerted efforts crucial to safeguard Bengal tigers
Despite some progress, wildlife conservation stays a considerable problem for Bangladesh, consultants say. They emphasize the necessity for collaborative efforts amongst state businesses, worldwide organizations, and different nations to fight wildlife trafficking successfully.
Regional and worldwide collaboration is deemed crucial, stated M.A. Aziz, a zoology professor at Jahangirnagar University in Dhaka. He referred to as for workshops, coaching and consciousness campaigns for regulation enforcement businesses and officers at land border crossings, seaports and airports. He additionally underscored the necessity for Bangladesh to take part extra actively in worldwide boards with different tiger vary nations in addition to vacation spot nations for tiger components.
“Bangladesh ought to improve its participation in worldwide boards and take proactive measures to bridge the hole between the Forest Department and varied state businesses, together with the police, Rapid Action Battalion, border guard and coast guard,” Aziz stated.
Patwary, the wildlife crime enforcement chief, agreed on the necessity for stronger collaboration with regional and worldwide organizations, however cited budgetary constraints. He referred to as for direct authorities funding to boost regulation enforcement on the bottom.
“Only a small variety of people are engaged in these crimes, and eliminating them is possible with good intentions,” Patwary stated. “However, a big subject is the unfinished integration of the WCCU with the Forest Department since its institution in 2012.”
He identified that the WCCU doesn’t instantly obtain authorities funding. Instead, it operates with assets from varied tasks and donor teams. This limitation poses challenges in its administrative, legislative, and technological capabilities.
Bangladesh’s battle towards tiger trafficking serves as a powerful reminder of the broader challenges in wildlife conservation, consultants say. They notice it’s going to take concerted motion from the federal government, worldwide organizations and native communities to dismantle the intricate net of wildlife crime and shield the Bengal tiger from disappearing endlessly from the nation.
Banner picture: Confiscated unlawful wildlife components. Image by Ryan Moehring / USFWS by way of Flickr (CC BY 2.0).
Forest administration instrument may assist rein in rampant wildlife commerce in Bangladesh
Uddin, N., Enoch, S., Harihar, A., Pickles, R. S. A., Hughes, A. C. (2023). Tigers at a crossroads: Shedding mild on the function of Bangladesh within the unlawful commerce of this iconic massive cat. Conservation Science and Practice, 5(7). doi:10.1111/csp2.12952
Animal Cruelty, Animals, Big Cats, Charismatic Animals, Conservation, Endangered Species, Environment, Environmental Crime, Environmental Law, Governance, Illegal Trade, International Trade, Poaching, Tigers, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife consumption, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking
Asia, Bangladesh, South Asia