The Bangladesh and Indian Sundarbans, a UNES CO World Heritage Site, is the largest mangrove forest in the world and has been identified as a tiger ‘Source Site’. On the Bangladesh side, the Sundarbans is classified as a Reserved Forest and totals 6,017 km2, of which 4,267 km2 is terrestrial habitat, and the remainder a network of waterways. The area includes three wildlife sanctuaries: Sundarbans West, Sundarbans South, and Sundarbans East. The Sundarbans ecosystem contains perhaps one of the most unique tiger populations in the world. While the tigers are classified as the Bengal subspecies, they are considerably smaller and survive in a very unusual habitat – a mangrove swamp that is flooded by tides twice daily. In this habitat tigers have been known to rest in trees when the ground below is flooded.
The Sundarbans is also unique in that more people are killed by tigers there each year than anywhere else in the world. While people do not live inside the Sundarbans forests, tens of thousands enter the forest each day to collect honey and to fish. Tigers kill people as they crouch on the ground collecting honey or as they paddle their small boats along narrow waterways.
In 2014, Panthera partnered with Wild Team to work with the Bangladesh Forest Department to protect tigers starting in the West Sanctuary on the Indian border. First steps include training and equipping forest guards, introducing SMART , and monitoring tigers and prey. That the sanctuary is a system of islands presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities, but because it is accessible only by water and no human access is legally allowed, it should ultimately be easier to protect.
Tigers Forever is currently being carried out in this country and five others: