The disappearance of a vast mangrove forest spanning parts of India and Bangladesh is threatening the lives of the estimated 500 Bengal tigers that live there, according to a new study.
A major study from the Zoological Society of London reported that the The Sundarbans mangrove forest is disappearing due to erosion, sea level rise and storm surges.
"The Sundarbans is a critical tiger habitat; one of only a handful of remaining forests big enough to hold several hundred tigers. To lose the Sundarbans would be to move a step closer to the extinction of these majestic animals," ZSL tiger expert Sarah Christie told The Guardian.
In 2007, The Sundarbans was hit by super cyclone Sidr, and satellite studies show that 71 percent of the coastline is retreating by up to 200 meters each year.
At the current rate, the mangroves on the Indian side of the Sundarbans could disappear in 50 years, while the island that extends farthest into the Bay of Bengal could lose its forest in 20 years, said Natalie Pettorelli, one of the report’s authors.
If the forests disappear, human lives may also be threatened. The mangroves shield the people from low-lying areas of India and Bangladesh from natural disasters such as tidal waves and cyclones.