New study predicts no viable Indian tiger habitats left by 2070
The Sundarbans is a vast mangrove forest that stretches almost 4,000 square kilometres across India and Bangladesh. The forest is home to one of the largest populations of Bengal tigers. However, due to climate change this prime tiger habitat is in trouble.
A recent study released in Science of The Total Environment has predicted that by 2070, there will be no viable tiger habitats left in the Sundarbans. A scary prospect considering that 95% of wild populations have been lost in the last century.
The level of carbon dioxide emissions into the earth’s atmosphere has increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from greenhouse gas emissions but also from land use changes such as deforestation. The levels of these increases are likely to cause irreversible negative changes to our planet’s ecosystem.
The Sundarbans position makes it highly vulnerable to rising sea levels and extreme weather events, both attributed to climate change. The mean elevation of the forest is less than one metre above sea level which threatens the entire habitat. Furthermore, the report didn’t factor in threats like poaching, human-tiger conflicts and disease. Rising sea levels are also increasing the salinity of the regions water, killing trees, reducing tiger habitats and the availability of fresh water.
Tigers face a threat unprecedented in history and if we don’t act now, this majestic species could become extinct within our life time. However, these is still hope.
The publication of the IPBES Global Assessment Report earlier this month highlights the size of the challenge we face. However, the Report also tells us that it is “not too late to make a difference, but only if we start now at every level from local to global”.
David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) is helping to protect wild tiger populations throughout Asia by funding ground-based tiger conservation initiatives in India, Thailand and Russia.