Plight of the Big Cats: Killing Spree on Bangladesh Tigers Attributed to Poachers, Pirates
Wildlife killings are not new, but a recent study has taken a deeper view in understanding why people still kill animals. Specifically focusing on the declining population of the Bangladesh tigers, the study highlighted the typologies of tiger killers, shedding a better light to manipulate their behaviors and decrease the killing spree.
Led by Samia Saif of the University of Kent in Canterbury, United Kingdom, the research tried to explore the reasons behind the Bangladesh tiger killings. Employing a qualitative research approach involving 144 respondents, they were able to categorize the types of people engaged in slaughtering the big cats.
In their findings, they have identified five major categories: village residents, poachers, shikaris, trappers and pirates. Each group has interestingly different motives, but what topped the list was for safety.
Since tigers can truly pose threat to human lives and were noted to kill 30 people a year, it is but normal for the Bangladesh community to fight for their lives. Another noted reason behind the killings was the tigers' attack on livestock, especially cows. Losing a great deal for the farmers because of the high value of cows in Bangladesh, they end up hunting and poaching tigers to compensate for their losses.
Another highlight in Saif's paper was the organization of "pirates." According to their findings and in-depth interviews, these so-called local versions of the Mafia have been engaged in large-scale poaching and killing of tigers. These activities were due to several factors such as to "show off" and threaten local hostages or create a good name for the group by appearing as "heroes" who saved the people from tigers.
There were also statements wherein pirates believed that tigers can be used for medicinal and spiritual purposes. For instance, a tooth of the tiger is worn by male pirates as pendants on necklaces since it is believed to increase sexual virility.
The Bangladesh government tried to resolve the issue of tiger killings by increasing forest guards, but this move was ineffective. Since pirates are well equipped and armed, they even killed guards in 2009.
Instead, the government offered lower punishments in return of their surrender to the authorities and many expressed their interest to surrender. The results of the paper were featured on BBC Earth.