DHAKA (AFP) - Wildlife rangers in Bangladesh said Saturday they have stopped tracking Royal Bengal tigers due to the mystery death of two of the critically endangered big cats who were fitted with radio transmitters.
The first tiger was found dead in 2006, while the second is missing but reported to have "become frail after the fitting of a radio collar," according to top forest official A.K.M Shamsuddin.
"We have ordered a probe into the deaths. But in the meantime, we have suspended the project as some experts said the fitting of the radio collar could have hastened their deaths," he said.
The deaths and halting of the project, supported by the United States, is a major blow to efforts to learn more about the animals.
Little is known about the habits of an estimated 668 Royal Bengal tigers living in the Sunderbans, the world's largest mangrove forest and a United Nations heritage site that stretches along India's eastern coast to Bangladesh.
Experts have estimated that only 5,000 to 6,000 Royal Bengal tigers are left in the world, down from about 100,000 in 1900.