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Title: Investigating tiger poaching in the Bangladesh Sundarbans
Author: Saif, Samia
ISNI:       0000 0004 5918 2793
Awarding Body: University of Kent and Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2016
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Tigers (Panthera tigris) are Critically Endangered in Bangladesh with only 106 individuals remaining. Poaching is one of the major reasons for the rapid decline in tiger numbers across their entire range. In Bangladesh, very little is known about the utilization of tiger parts, and few details exist to date regarding their acquisition and trade. This research is an original study that explores the local usage, poaching, and trade of tiger parts in the Sundarbans of Bangladesh for the first time. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 141 respondents in the villages around the Bangladesh Sundarbans from December 2011 to June 2013. The respondents include Village Tiger Response Team members (n=46/141), general members of the village community (n=62/141), and tiger killers (n=33/141). The study revealed the local use of, and belief in, the medicinal values of tiger parts is diverse (e.g. medicinal uses, as protection from "dangers" in the forest, and to enhance personal social status and/or wellbeing), and that virtually all parts of the tiger are used including teeth, bones, meat, tongue, genital organs, claws, furs, and whiskers. The research concludes that 65% of the respondents use and/or believe in the benefits of tiger parts, 20% do not use or believe, 9% do not want to talk about the use of tiger parts and 6% are coded 'don't know'. Of the respondents who reported using and/or believing in the benefits of tiger parts, 52% used tiger parts, and 96% believed in the benefits of tiger parts in spite of personal consumption or not. A local trade of tiger parts is present in the villages around the Bangladesh Sundarbans where tiger parts are traded via local middlemen or friends or families with little or no money. Five groups were identified that are involved in tiger killing: villagers, poachers, shikari (local hunters), trappers, and pirates. Villagers kill tigers in the village predominantly for safety, while other groups kill inside the forest professionally or opportunistically. Poachers kill tigers purely for money, but the diverse incentives for the other groups are more complex. Shikari's motives are multi-faceted, encompassing excitement, profit, esteem, and status arising from providing tiger parts for local medicine. Pirates, on the other hand, not only kill tigers for profit and safety, but also as a 'protection service' to the community. The results further illustrate that each group that engages in the killing of tigers submit tiger parts to the commercial trade in exchange for money. This study, additionally, found that a recent commercial demand for tiger bones exists in the Bangladesh Sundarbans; however, the commercial trade of tiger skin was always present. In the Bangladesh Sundarbans, the tiger killers locally tan the skin using local ingredients (potash alum, blue vitriol, salt), and bury the rest of the body to collect the bones later. The price range of a skin varies between BDT 40,000-90,000 (USD520-1,169); for bones BDT 1,500-3,000/kg (USD20-39) and for a canine BDT 1,000-7,000 (USD13-91). Non-local Bangladeshi traders from other cities come and buy the bones from the tiger killers. Note, the trade chain for bones and skin are separate in the Bangladesh Sundarbans. The secondary data documented 46 incidents of tiger or tiger parts being traded in the Bangladesh from 1981 to 2015, of which most of them are confiscation of tiger/tiger parts by the law enforcement authorities (n=26). The overall tiger poaching situation in Bangladesh is complex and requires a multifaceted conservation approach based on the local benefits of tiger conservation that is generated by new development measures, combined with stronger enforcement. These suggested conservation efforts may likely represent the only sustainable solution to maintain a steady tiger population in the Bangladesh Sundarbans.
Supervisor: MacMillan, Douglas Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GN Anthropology