Tiger attacks & habitat loss in India

March 4, 2010

Tiger attacks

Although humans are not regular prey for them, the tiger has killed more people than any other cat. Between 1800 and 1900, it is estimated that tigers had killed over 10,000 people in India alone[verification needed], coinciding with the wave of British settlement. However, man-eaters are mostly old and injured tigers, and almost all tigers that are identified as man-eaters are eventually captured, shot or poisoned. Man-eaters have been a recurrent problem for India, especially in Kumaon, Garhwal and the Sundarbans mangrove swamps of Bengal, where some healthy tigers have been known to hunt humans.

Because many of the south Asian subspecies of tiger, particularly the Bengal tiger in Bangladesh and India, live in areas of high and growing population density, farmers and loggers have a long and continuing history of encroaching on tiger habitat, increasing the probability of confrontation. The number of tigers as a whole has dwindled in the twenty-first century, partly due to indiscriminate poaching.

Although humans are not regular prey for them, the tiger has killed more people than any other cat. Between 1800 and 1900, it is estimated that tigers had killed over 10,000 people in India alone[verification needed], coinciding with the wave of British settlement. However, man-eaters are mostly old and injured tigers, and almost all tigers that are identified as man-eaters are eventually captured, shot or poisoned. Man-eaters have been a recurrent problem for India, especially in Kumaon, Garhwal and the Sundarbans mangrove swamps of Bengal, where some healthy tigers have been known to hunt humans.

Because many of the south Asian subspecies of tiger, particularly the Bengal tiger in Bangladesh and India, live in areas of high and growing population density, farmers and loggers have a long and continuing history of encroaching on tiger habitat, increasing the probability of confrontation. The number of tigers as a whole has dwindled in the twenty-first century, partly due to indiscriminate poaching.

Sundarbans

“The Sundarbans freshwater swamp forests are a tropical moist broadleaf forest ecoregion of India and Bangladesh. It represents the brackish swamp forests that lie behind the Sundarbans Mangroves where the salinity is more pronounced. The freshwater ecoregion is an area where the water is only slightly brackish and becomes quite fresh during the rainy season, when the freshwater plumes from the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers push the intruding salt water out and also bring a deposit of silt. It covers an area of 14,600 square kilometers (5,600 square miles) of the vast Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, extending from India’s West Bengal state into western Bangladesh. The Sundarbans freshwater swamp forests lie between the upland Lower Gangetic plains moist deciduous forests and the brackish-water Sundarbans mangroves bordering the Bay of Bengal.[11]

The fertile soils of the delta have been subject to intensive human use for centuries, and the ecoregion has been mostly converted to intensive agriculture, with few enclaves of forest remaining. The remaining forests, together with the Sundarbans mangroves, are important habitat for the endangered Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris). In addition to the endangered tiger, there are several other threatened mammal species, such as the capped langur (Semnopithecus pileatus), smooth-coated otter (Lutrogale perspicillata), Oriental small-clawed otter (Aonyx cinerea), and great Indian civet (Viverra zibetha). The ecoregion also contains the leopard (Panthera pardus) and several smaller predators such as the jungle cat (Felis chaus), fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus), and leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis).[11]

This ecoregion is nearly extinct, the victim of large-scale clearing and settlement to support one of the densest human populations in Asia. Hundreds of years of habitation and exploitation by one of the world’s densest human populations have exacted a heavy toll of this ecoregion’s habitat and biodiversity. There are two protected areas — Narendrapur (110 km2) and Ata Danga Baor (20 km2) that cover a mere 130 km2 of the ecoregion. Habitat loss in this ecoregion is so extensive, and the remaining habitat is so fragmented, that it is difficult to ascertain the composition of the original vegetation of this ecoregion. According to Champion and Seth (1968), the freshwater swamp forests are characterized by Heritiera minor, Xylocarpus molluccensis, Bruguiera conjugata, Sonneratia apetala, Avicennia officinalis, and Sonneratia caseolaris, with Pandanus tectorius, Hibiscus tiliaceus, and Nipa fruticans along the fringing banks.”

Ref: Wikipedia

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