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Who is killing the tiger and why?

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

A new study into the motives and methods of people involved in killing tigers in the Sundarbans in Bangladesh makes for worrying reading.

The tiger has declined across its range and now occurs in only 13 countries. Poaching is a major cause of this decline, driven by the demand for tiger parts. The new study focusses on the problem on tiger poaching in the Sundarbans, once considered a stronghold for the species with an estimated population of 300-500 individuals in 2009. Today an estimated 106 remain.

The study identified and interviewed five groups involved in tiger killing: village tiger killers (ie local people who kill tigers that have entered their village), poachers, shikaris, trappers and pirates.

A combination of fear, excitement, bravado, retaliation, safety, money, accident and opportunity were cited as the key reasons to kill tigers.

Women were rarely involved apart from helping to bury and hide the tiger carcass – which would be later recovered and the bones sold on. In some instances, only the claws and whiskers were removed from dead tigers as locals knew they could easily sell these products on trying to sell a whole tiger involved a different and more complex network.

“This fascinating study is well worth reading,” says the TigerTime team. “It shines a light on the complex attitudes towards tigers and the different groups involved in their decline from the opportunist to the professional poacher. Recommendations such as providing increased law enforcement, alternative livelihoods and the formation on Village Response Teams all form part of our approach to tiger protection which TigerTime donors help support.

“It is only by understanding the dynamics and drivers that lead to tigers being killed that we can address the issues, but with numbers in such sharp decline time really could be running out for tigers in the wild.”

Read the report ‘Who is Killing the tiger Panthera tigris and why?’ by Samia Saif, HM Tuihedur Rahman and Douglas Craig MacMillan by clicking here

Image credit: Surya Ramachandran
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