Dhaka: Six people arrested on poaching charges were killed in a gun battle with police on Sunday in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans, an official said.
Mohammad Moniruzzaman, deputy inspector general of police range in Khulna, 180 km from Dhaka, told the media that the poachers were arrested on Sunday morning, Xinhua reported.
In the afternoon, a team of law enforcers took them to the Sundarbans to recover tiger hides and firearms, when other poachers present there opened fire at the police personnel, forcing them to retaliate, he said.
The arrested poachers were caught in the line of fire and died on the spot. The other poachers fled.
Five policemen were injured in the gunfight, he added.
Police found four guns, three pistols and three hides of Royal Bengal tigers.
A new survey released last month said there were only 106 tigers in the Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest.
The official advisory organisation on natural World Heritage has recommended putting the Sundarbans on a list of ‘natural sites in danger’ as Bangladesh has continued implementing a coal-fired power plant project near the forest.
The World Heritage Committee of 21 governments is scheduled to decide on the recommendations by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in its annual meeting in Azerbaijan from June 30 to July 10, bdnews24 reported on Saturday
In July 2017, Unesco withdrew a plan to inscribe the Sundarbans in the list of heritage sites in danger by 2018 in case of the failure to meet the mission’s recommendations. The government had been allowed until December 2018 at the time to report on the conservation of the world’s largest mangrove forest to the World Heritage Centre.
A reactive monitoring mission, jointly conducted by the Centre and IUCN in March 2016, made detailed recommendations including the necessity of a strategic environmental assessment for the south-west region. After the mission, the World Heritage Committee had called for the Rampal power plant project to be cancelled and relocated.
The committee had welcomed Bangladesh’s decision to carry out the assessment into the potential impact of a coal-based thermal plant, besides the decisions to scrap the plant’s second phase and also the Orion power plant.
In an article on its website, IUCN on June 7 this year said it recommended listing of the Sundarbans, Mexico’s Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California and the Ohrid region in North Macedonia as “World Heritage in danger”. It cited severe threats from coal-fired power plants and numerous industrial activities in close proximity.
Despite the call for relocation of the project, its construction has continued without any assessment of its impact on the Sundarbans’ World Heritage values, the Union said. Two additional coal-fired power plants are being constructed on the Payra River, which flows into the same bay as the Sundarbans, according to IUCN.
Over 150 industrial projects are also active upstream of the site, and their associated shipping and dredging activities further threaten its hydrological and ecological dynamics, it said. “The hydrological systems, which drive this dynamics, are very large in scale and vulnerable to upstream impacts,” it added. (IANS)