Royal Bengal Tigers may not survive Climate Change: UN Report.

May 11, 2019.

Royal Bengal Tigers may not survive Climate Change: UN Report.

According to a recent UN report, Climate change and rising sea levels eventually may wipe out ‘The Sundarbans’, one of the world’s last and largest tiger strongholds. The cats are among nearly 500,000 land species whose survival is in question because of threats to their natural habitats.

Spread in an area of 4,000 square miles of marshy land in Bangladesh and India, the Sundarbans hosts the world’s largest mangrove forest and a rich ecosystem supporting several hundred animal species, including the endangered Bengal tiger.

Australian and Bangladeshi researchers reported in the journal ‘Science of the total Environment’ that 70 % of the land is just a few feet above sea level, and grave changes are in store for the region. Changes wrought by a warming planet will be “enough to decimate” the few hundred or so Bengal tigers remaining there.

The study by 10 researchers concluded that by 2070, there will be no suitable tiger habitats remaining in the Bangladesh Sundarbans. In 2010, a study led by the World Wide Fund for Nature projected that a sea level rise of 11 inches could reduce the number of tigers in the Sundarbans by 96 percent within a few decades. A recent study found that far more than previously thought, Climate change has harmed almost half of the world’s endangered mammals.

A lead author of the new report on the Sundarbans, Sharif A Mukul, and his colleagues looked for risks to the tiger beyond sea level rise, which accounted for 5.4 % to 11.3 % of the projected habitat loss in 2050 and 2070.

The studies found that in the Bangladesh Sundarbans, a rise in extreme weather events and changing vegetation will further reduce the population. And as the Sundarbans flood, confrontations may grow between humans and tigers as the animals stray outside their habitat in search of new land.

Mr. Mukul, an assistant professor of environmental management at Independent University, Bangladesh in Dhaka said, “A lot of things might happen.” “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.”

In the month of October, the UN’s scientific panel on climate change said in a report that if greenhouse gas emissions continued at the current rate, the atmosphere would warm as much as 1.5C above preindustrial levels by 2040.

Zahir Uddin Ahmed, an official with Bangladesh’s forest department, said, “Some steps have been taken to protect low-lying areas and the tigers living there.” He said that crops that can survive higher levels of water salinity are being introduced. The government has built storm surge walls. Sediment redistribution has also naturally raised the height of some islands.

The author of The Vanishing: India’s Wildlife Crisis, Prerna Singh Bindra, said, tiger habitats would continue to shrink – whether because of climate change or the development of industry – and that good conservation options were hard to come by.

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