NEW DELHI: According to a UN study released on May 6, 2019, scientists warned that climate change and rising sea levels may wipe out Bengal tigers.
The big cats are among other 500,000 terrestrial species whose survival is in question due to vulnerability of their habitat towards climate change, said the report. The world’s largest delta formed between Bhramaputra and the Ganges – Sundarbans – is also the world’s largest mangrove forest, which is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger, have its 70 per cent of land area a few feet above the sea levels which is highly vulnerable to climate change effects. “By 2070 there will be no suitable tiger habitat remaining in Sundarbans,” researchers concluded in the study.
As per a study by the World Wide Fund for Nature in 2010, an increase in sea level by 11 inches can reduce the number of tigers in Sundarbans by around 96 per cent.
Dr Sharif A Mukul, an assistant professor of environmental management at Independent University, Dhaka and the lead author of the new report, looked for risks to the tiger beyond sea level rise, which accounted for 5.4 per cent to 11.3 per cent of the projected habitat loss in 2050 and 2070.
Habitat loss, hunting and illegal trading of animal parts have reduced the global population of tigers to fewer than 4,000 from 100,00. In the Sundarbans, an increase in extreme weather events and changing vegetation will result in further reduction in the population, said the report. “The situation could be even worse if there is a cyclone or if there is some disease outbreak in that area, or if there is a food shortage. A lot of things might happen,” said Dr Mukul.
A landmark report released in October by the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change found that if greenhouse gas emissions continued at same pace, the atmosphere would warm as much as 2.7 degree Fahrenheit above the preindustrial levels by 2040. The increase in temperature would have significant consequences for food chains, coral reefs and flood-prone areas. It may also disproportionally affect poorer, densely packed countries like Bangladesh, which is home to 160 million people.