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- Introducing the Tiger Team
- The big picture of tiger conservation
- Visiting my Chagossian heritage – Yannick Mandarin
- ZSL Cameroon Wildlife Wood Project Bulletin (January to March 2013)
- Egypt Expedition – Meet the team
- The new Principles and Criteria are approved, but challenges remain
- There’s no right way to eat a rhesus
- The RSPO endorses the ZSL High Conservation Value Monitoring System
- Andrea: I think the statement "hunters with metal ammuniti...
- Elsa Lamb: WOW! what an adventure. So sad to see the original...
- Elsa Lamb: What wonderful work you do, I'm so proud of you Ta...
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Community participation for tiger conservation
Posted on July 5, 2010
Hello, this is Nazneen from the Sundarbans Tiger Project.
This time I would like to introduce you with another team of our project – Participatory Management and Community Outreach team comprising Modinul, Ashraful, Mahbub, Khairul, Alam and Mizan. With a view to provide field level assistance to villagers for managing different human-tiger conflict situations, these guys are forming community teams in the most tiger prone villages adjacent to the Sundarbans.
They have been in the process of forming these teams in collaboration with the Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh (WTB, a local NGO also managing the Sundarbans Tiger Project), Forest Department (FD) and the local administration. These community teams are made up from local villagers who step forward as volunteers to provide this service to their community. They are truly example citizens.
In addition to the introduction, the incident that I relate this time has actually lifted our spirits to see that our conservation efforts are paying off!
Here it goes -
On June 9, a fisherman named Saiful along with two companions from Kolagachia village of Shayamnagar Upazilla in Satkhira district had gone for fishing in the Badoltuli khal (canal) in the afternoon. Once they were done they stepped into the forest for collecting firewood from the forest.
It was at that time that a tiger attacked Saiful and dragged him inside the forest. Having no precautionary measures with them, the other two were dumbfounded and quickly departed from the spot. On reaching the village Saiful’s companions wasted no time in relating the incident to the villagers.
The news is, however, nothing new for the villagers – it was not the first time that a man was killed by a tiger; rather this happened many times before. So, this time, too, they accepted their fate as usual. Fear, however, had tightened its grip on the people and the thought of retrieving the dead body from the forest was a far cry.
Therefore, Saiful’s family had to forsake the idea of a funeral and they had nothing to do except lament. The incident could have ended at this point. Generally all tiger incidents of the Sundarbans end like this. But this one proved to be different.
There were a few young men among the villagers who decided to stand by the deceased’s family. Unlike the rest they were not frightened by the incident. On the contrary they volunteered to recover the victim’s body from the forest. They took the initiative to assemble approximately 50 men with sticks and torches and then ventured into the forest.
By the time they reached the silent Badoltuli khal, it was already dusk – the time when tigers become active for hunting. The splashing of their oars broke the silence of the tranquil ambience of the forest. A cloudy sky and cold gust of wind heralded the coastal monsoon and rolling sea – a reminder to the crew that they needed to complete their mission quickly in order to escape a storm.
Overwhelmed by the tension of the situation everyone was quiet on board – too many thoughts were racing through their minds – shall we able to make it? What will happen if the tiger attacks again, who will fall this time? What if the dacoits attack us? (By the way the forest is also occupied by armed dacoits)
Peering into the dark, they finally arrived on the bank from where the three fishermen had entered the forest. The boat was harboured. A few men remained on board while the others stepped on the muddy ground – thankfully the tide was low. They tried to take in the scene facing them – a thick vegetation of Goran (Ceriops decandra) bordered the creek and tall shadows of Gewa (Excoecaria agallocha) trees loomed in the dark. Their torches were the only illumination sprinkled in the wide, unknown expanse beyond.
The three fishermen had actually gone four metres deep into the forest from the bank when the tiger attacked them. That meant this rescue team was also required to go after the same track to locate the tiger pugmarks. Taking a deep breath, they proceeded and stumbled their way inside the thick vegetation. Soon they reached the spot – the tiger’s pugmarks were still fresh.
Tracking the pugmarks from the spot of the incident, they crept deeper into the forest. Eventually after covering a distance of approximately 80 metres, they spotted the distorted dead body of Saiful. Carefully and safely they took the same route back to the boat and finally headed for the village.
Actually those ten young men were not like any other men of the village – just a week ago they had received their training in tackling tiger-attack situations and they belonged to the community team that I have mentioned earlier. We call them Village Tiger Response Team (VTRT), and our plan is to make 28 such teams out of which 10 already exist.
Appreciating the role of the VTRT members, Mr. Sabbir Ahmed, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO, local administration) of Shayamnagar Upazila, said, “The VTRT has been formed exactly when it is urgently required.”
It’s really encouraging to see that after receiving training, these volunteers had successfully utilized it in the first demand. They had not neglected the duty that is expected of them. With this example in hand, we can say that community participation can be an effective way to empower villagers with safeguarding techniques against tigers.
We also expect that in the long run these same frightened villagers, who now consider tigers to be a burden, will learn to deal with conflict scenarios and in turn will become the guardians of our Bengal tigers! Let’s hope that the day is not far away.