Illegal deer consumption may threaten tigers in Bangladesh
Researchers know that tigers are threatened by dropping prey numbers, but little has been done to assess the scale of the problem. Information about prey hunting may be hard to come by “because of the secretive and illegal nature of this activity,” the study authors write in Animal Conservation.
The team studied the area around the Sundarbans Reserved Forest of Bangladesh, which provides a protected area for tigers. The tigers eat mainly chital (Axis axis), a type of deer. To find out how many deer were being poached, the researchers sent locals to interview about 800 households in surrounding areas.
Nearly half the households said they had eaten deer meat, and each household ate an average of 1.13 kilograms of deer meat per year. Almost all the survey respondents said the deer came from the nearby reserve. While most people knew they were breaking the law, they said they weren’t afraid of being caught or having to pay a low fine as punishment.
Based on the surveys, the team estimated that the households ate 11,195 deer per year. To reduce poaching, the authors suggest that managers focus on richer households near the forest. But since many people had access to free deer meat, simply offering people another type of cheap meat isn’t likely to change their habits. — Roberta Kwok | 10 July 2012
Source: Mohsanin, S. et al. 2012. Assessing the threat of human consumption of tiger prey in the Bangladesh Sundarbans. Animal Conservation doi: 10.1111/j.1469-1795.2012.00571.x.
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