KHULNA, Bangladesh, Aug. 9 (UPI) — Police say they killed six suspected tiger poachers during a raid in the Sundarbans forest region of Bangladesh.
The firefight occurred at a hideout located on the Bangladeshi side of the world’s largest mangrove forest, which is 10,000 square miles and stretches into India. The BBC reports officers saying they found three fresh tiger pelts at the scene.
Mohammad Moniruzzaman, police deputy inspector general in Khulna, told Xinhua news agency some of the poachers had been arrested, prompting others to open fire. The “arrested poachers were caught in the line of fire and died on the spot, but their cohorts managed to flee,” Moniruzzaman said.
There are an estimated 106 rare Bengal tigers remaining on the Bangladeshi side of the Sundarbans, according to figures compiled by forestry officials, while 74 have been counted on the Indian side.
The number is down from its 2005 total of 440, a decline attributed to rampant poaching.
The BBC reports Bangladesh has stepped up efforts to combat poachers after the recent figures were released. The data was reportedly attained with the use of several hidden cameras, the same method used by Indian officials who reported an increase of more than 500 tigers in the county between 2010 and January 2015.
That effort tallied a total of 2,226 tigers living in India, a 60 percent increase from the 2008 estimate of 1,400. Still, 100,000 tigers were estimated to be living in the country at the start of the 20th century.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, 3,200 tigers exist in the wild today.