Bengal Tigers of Bangladesh are one of the most beautiful animal in its territory. They are exquisite, magnificent, royal, dangerous and in danger. It is sad that the Royal Bengal Tigers (Panthera tigris tigris) of Bangladesh are in decline. In a recent report, it has been suggested that Bangladesh may have 100+ tigers left instead of 440. Over the last 100 years, hunting, habitat loss, prey depletion, forest destruction and climate change have reduced tiger populations drastically. Today, it is estimated that there are fewer than 2,500 Bengal tigers left in the wild in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan. Indeed, all species of tigers are considered endangered.
Apart from being the national animal of Bangladesh and happily exist in the Bangladesh Cricket Team logo, the survival of Bengal Tigers of Bangladesh indeed a constant struggle. One recent danger was due to an oil spill in the Sundarbans area. Then poachers are still a big threat, tigers are killed in retribution as a result of general human-tiger conflict, negative attitudes towards tigers among local people etc. are making the situation even worse.
A film was released this year that touches these issues. Tiger Tiger – a documentary by George Butler – follows Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, a world renowned big cat conservationist, as he travels through the tiger habitat he has never before seen. Like the tiger he faces his own diminishing timeline. Diagnosed with leukemia, Alan makes what may be the last expedition in his long career in search of the last wild tigers of the Sundarbans. Set in one of the least-known landscapes left on earth, the beautiful Sundarbans forest, Tiger Tiger is the story of a man with numbered days seeking to save an animal whose days may also be numbered.
Tiger Tiger TrailerTiger Tiger (2015), George Butler, 90 mins, USA
The documentary follows Alan as he explores the relationship between local people who live on the margins of the forest and the fearsome, but threatened predator. Alan visits the Indian side of the Sundarbans where tiger and human coexist relatively well and tiger habitat is carefully monitored. In contrast, Bengal tigers are less secure in Bangladesh side. Environment, economy, ignorance and stigma all are working against the tiger population of Bangladesh. Here is a snapshot of what is at stake:
But the documentary, Tiger Tiger, focuses more on the bigger picture – not only the peril, also the possibilities – how to save these rare, mystique, gorgeous, majestic animals in its natural habitat. Few remaining tigers are indeed fighting for their lives with the smartest predator on earth – human – the only predator who can also save them from total extinction.
In a sense, Tiger Tiger is more of a spiritual film than conservation or environmental related film. It has been shown many places and won some prestigious awards. Is there a way, the film could be shown in Bangladesh? There are other films available on Bengal tigers (Swamp Tigers, 2001; Man Eating Tigers of the Sundarbans, 2009). How hard is it to make an arrangement to translate/dub these films in Bangla and show on Bangladeshi TVs, schools and local communities to create a greater awareness and seek support!
After all, what is Bangladesh without Bengal Tigers! Who will love them, save them if it is not the people of the same land? Tiger Tiger is a compelling story – “a dying man is trying to save a dying species.” What about you Bangladesh?