Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Climate pressures leading to rise in Sunderbans 'tiger widows'

Syful Islam in Reuters AlertNet: Climate change is driving a growing number of farmers in Bangladesh's southern Sunderbans region out of their fields and into the region's mangrove forests, leading to a rise in tiger attacks and 'tiger widows,' researchers say.

Finding no other jobs to earn livelihoods, people of the region are increasingly turning to the forests to catch fish and crabs or collect wood and honey for sale. But that has left them vulnerable to attacks by the dwindling number of Royal Bengal tigers that roam the Sunderbans, experts say.

…In a society where widows often have low social status and little chance to remarry, the tiger attacks are creating new suffering in a region already struggling with widespread loss of farmland to sea level rise and salt intrusion that has made it impossible for many farmers to continue growing crops.

"The tiger widows in that area are being treated as 'unwanted'. They are unwelcome at their in-laws' house and forced to return to their father's family," said Anwarul Islam, a geologist at the University of Dhaka and chief executive officer of the Wildlife Trust of Bangladesh (WTB).

Tiger-people interactions are age-old in the region, but are now on the rise as farmers who can no longer earn a living from their land venture in growing numbers into the Sunderbans mangrove forests in search of an alternative income....

Tiger, shot by Bas Lammers, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative CommonsAttribution 2.0 Generic license

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