DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Police on Sunday killed six suspected tiger poachers in the world’s largest mangrove forest in southwestern Bangladesh, home to critically endangered Royal Bengal tigers.
Local police official Harendranath Sarker said authorities recovered six bodies following a gunfight with a gang of suspected poachers in the Sundarbans mangrove forest. The 10,000-square-kilometer (3,860-square-mile) forest straddles Bangladesh and India, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sarker said authorities found the skins of three adult tigers and seized firearms from the suspects.
Some local media reported that the suspects were arrested in different parts of the forest before they were killed, but police said they died during the raid.
Some 440 tigers were recorded in the Sundarbans forest in a 2004 census based on collecting tigers’ paw prints, but a year-long survey that ended in April 2015 using video cameras estimated the current tiger population at between 83 and 130, averaging about 106.
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Bangladeshi forest officials say the new estimate is more accurate because of the use of cameras. They and other experts say poaching is a major reason for the decline of the tiger population.