Assessing the threat of human consumption of tiger prey in Sundarbans

  1. S. Mohsanin1,4,*,
  2. A. C. D. Barlow1,2,
  3. C. J. Greenwood1,2,
  4. M. A. Islam1,3,
  5. M. M. Kabir4,
  6. M. M. Rahman1,
  7. A. Howlader1

Article first published online: 6 JUL 2012

DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-1795.2012.00571.x


One of the main threats to wild tigers Panthera tigris is poaching of natural prey, yet information is lacking about this threat for most of the tiger’s range. For tiger conservation in the Sundarbans Reserved Forest of Bangladesh, information is needed to assess the impact of prey poaching and the effectiveness of conservation actions to reduce this threat.

This study used an interview survey of people living close to the Sundarbans to estimate the scale of prey poaching, investigate factors driving prey poaching and capture information on the nature of prey consumption. Half of the households reported consuming deer meat, with mean consumption of 1.13 kg per household per year; equivalent to 11 195 deer killed. Deer meat was generally consumed for its good taste, with households closer to the forest boundary and with higher-income levels with relatively higher levels of consumption.

Although cost of deer meat was higher than other available meat, 29% of households obtained deer meat for free. Deer meat tended to be obtained from personal contacts, and consumed in private.

Most respondents (91.5%) knew deer consumption was illegal, but 69.4% viewed the law as ineffective.

The study findings will be used to design focused regulation and awareness activities to reduce prey consumption in the area. The approach used to evaluate prey poaching through investigation of prey consumption follows studies of wild meat consumption in Africa, and can potentially be applied to all tiger landscapes.

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