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Bengal tigers may not survive climate change

Topics covered:

  1. Conservation and pollution related issues.

 

Bengal tigers may not survive climate change

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: Threats posed by climate change to Sundarbans and Bengal tigers, measures needed.

 

Context: The survival of around five lakh land species is in question because of threats to their natural habitat, finds a UN report.

 

Key findings of the report:

Vulnerable: The cats are among 500,000 land species whose survival is in question because of threats to their natural habitats.

Main Causes: Climate change and rising sea levels.

Threats to Sundarbans: 70% of Sunderbans now is just a few feet above sea level, and grave changes are in store for the region.

Subsequent impact on tigers: Changes wrought by a warming planet will be “enough to decimate” the few hundred or so Bengal tigers remaining there. By 2070, there will be no suitable tiger habitats remaining in the Bangladesh Sundarbans.

Threats to tiger population: Since the early 1900s, habitat loss, hunting and the illegal trade of animal parts have decimated the global population of tigers from around 100,000 to fewer than 4,000.

In the Bangladesh Sundarbans, a spike 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.

 

Background:

The Sundarbans, 10,000 square kilometres of marshy land in Bangladesh and India, hosts the world’s largest mangrove forest and a rich ecosystem supporting several hundred animal species, including the Bengal tiger.

 

Concerns:

The latest finding adds to existing studies that offered similarly grim predictions for wildlife in the Sundarbans.

In 2010, 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%within a few decades.

Beyond sea level rise account for 5.4%to 11.3% of the projected habitat loss in 2050 and 2070.

In October, a landmark report from the UN found that if greenhouse gas emissions continued at the current rate, the atmosphere would warm as much as 1.5C above preindustrial levels by 2040.  That increase 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.

In an analysis of decades of tidal records, scientists found that high tides were rising much faster than the global average in Bangladesh, which sits in the Ganges Delta, a complex network of rivers and streams.

 

About Sundarbans:

  • The Sundarbans comprises hundreds of islands and a network of rivers, tributaries and creeks in the delta of the Ganga and the Brahmaputra at the mouth of the Bay of Bengal in India and Bangladesh.
  • Located on the southwestern part of the delta, the Indian Sundarban constitutes over 60% of the country’s total mangrove forest area.
  • It is the 27th Ramsar Site in India, and with an area of 4,23,000 hectares is now the largest protected wetland in the country.
  • The Indian Sundarban, also a UNESCO world heritage site, is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger. It is also home to a large number of “rare and globally threatened species, such as the critically endangered northern river terrapin (Batagur baska), the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), and the vulnerable fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).”
  • Two of the world’s four horseshoe crab species, and eight of India’s 12 species of kingfisher are also found here. Recent studies claim that the Indian Sundarban is home to 2,626 faunal species and 90% of the country’s mangrove varieties.

Source: The Hindu.