Tigers kill more humans in Sundarbans National Park than anywhere else on Earth. Why?

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  • Bengal tigers are the most numerous of the six tiger subspecies, accounting for about half of the world's population of wild tigers. 
     
    Despite their status as an icon of India and Bangladesh, Bengal tigers are an endangered species. The largest population of Bengal tigers lives in Sundarbans National Park, in West Bengal, India. The national park covers about 1,330 square kilometers (328,680 acres) of the densely forested delta of the Ganges River. 
     
    As human populations increase, so does conflict between humans and Bengal tigers. Development and hunting have contributed to a reduction of the tiger's natural prey—buffalo, deer, wild pigs, and other large mammals of the Sundarbans. Thus, humans have become targets for the hungry predators. 
     
    Watch the short, two-minute video and review the comprehension and critical-thinking questions in our ‘Questions’ tab.
    1. What is the range of the Bengal tiger? Watch the video for some help.

      The Bengal tiger's range stretches from far eastern Pakistan, through southern and eastern India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan.

      Take a look at our MapMaker Interactive map for a general distribution of all tiger species.

    2. Where is Sundarbans National Park? What habitat does it encompass? Watch the video for some help.

      Sundarbans National Park sits on the rich, fertile delta of the Ganges River in the state of West Bengal, India. It is adjacent to the Sundarbans Forest Reserve in Bangladesh, and the two are often considered one park.

      The Sundarbans parks are a dense, swampy mangrove forest.

    3. Sundarbans National Park boasts the largest concentration of Bengal tigers in the world. What other animals are indigenous to the Sundarbans? Watch the video for some help.

      The video gives a running list of large mammals of the Sundarbans—all prey species of the Bengal tiger: buffalo, deer, wild pigs.

      Other animals found in the swampy parks include pangolins, crocodiles, turtles, and even a unique species of dolphin.

    4. What factors contribute to the human-tiger conflict that exists in Sundarbans National Park?

      Tigers target humans because they lack an abundance of natural prey in the parks. Despite the danger, residents still enter the reserve to access resources they need, including wood, fish, and honeycomb. 

    5. How do you think the local Indian population might respond to the danger?

      Answers will vary! Some might include:

      • learning about, and adapting to, the tigers' behavior, such as the fact that they are less likely to attack a person face-on—the people in the video, for instance, wear masks on the back of their heads
      • avoiding certain areas of the park without armed protection
      • wear protective clothing
      • increase the populations of deer, buffalo, and other prey species of the Bengal tiger
      • release a certain number of livestock into the park as prey species

       

  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    delta Noun

    the flat, low-lying plain that sometimes forms at the mouth of a river from deposits of sediments.

    Encyclopedic Entry: delta
    densely Adverb

    heavily or crowded.

    development Noun

    construction or preparation of land for housing, industry, or agriculture.

    endangered species Noun

    organism threatened with extinction.

    Encyclopedic Entry: endangered species
    forest Verb

    to cover with trees and other vegetation.

    hunt Verb

    to pursue and kill an animal, usually for food.

    icon Noun

    an image or person used to represent something.

    mammal Noun

    animal with hair that gives birth to live offspring. Female mammals produce milk to feed their offspring.

    national park Noun

    geographic area protected by the national government of a country.

    predator Noun

    animal that hunts other animals for food.

    prey Noun

    animal that is hunted and eaten by other animals.

    subspecies Noun

    (subsp.) group of organisms within a single species, often distinguished by geographic isolation.