Bangladesh police Sunday shot dead six alleged tiger poachers in the world’s largest mangrove forest as it launched a crackdown following a drastic fall in the number of big cats.

Police said the six died after a gunfight with a gang at a canal in the Sundarbans forest, home to critically endangered Bengal tigers whose number there has nosedived to 106 from an estimated 440 a decade ago.

“The poachers first fired at us as we raided their den at Mandarbaria canal in the forest. We fired back. Six poachers were killed in the gunfight,” local police chief Harendranath Sarker told AFP.

He said police found the skins of three adult Bengal tigers, measuring 10-11 feet (3.5 metres), and seized four rifles and a pistol.

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