Bangladesh has assembled a special unit to guard against illegal trade of wildlife and protect the critically endangered Royal Bengal Tiger.
The force of 300 will focus their efforts on the Sundarbans mangrove forests between Bangladesh and India, one of the last refuges of the tigers. The decision came months after they seized three tiger skins and a large quantity of bones, the biggest haul of illegal tiger parts in decades.
Around 400 tigers still live in the area and until now poaching has not been considered as the chief threat to the tiger population in Bangladesh. But the arrest of a poacher with tiger skins and bones earlier this year raised fears that an organised poaching group was operating in the mangrove forests.
Officials admitted they did not have enough manpower, resources and training to counter the poachers, who they said were using increasingly sophisticated techniques to trap the tigers.
Minister of Environment and Forests Hasan Mahmud said that the setting up of the new wildlife force was long overdue. “The forest department staff in Bangladesh need more training, because now the poachers are very sophisticated,” he said.
Most of the money to set up the new Wildlife Crime Control unit will come from the World Bank loan of $36m (£21.8m).
The new force will also tackle a growing trade in the illegal trafficking of wild animals. This reflects recent incidents including one earlier this month, where customs officers at Bangkok airport in Thailand found hundreds of freshwater turtles and crocodiles packed in suitcases on a flight from Bangladesh.
Source: BBC News, Dhaka