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Biodiversity loss goes on, with none piqued  

Shihab Sarkar   | Published: May 11, 2019 22:17:00 | Updated: May 12, 2019 22:18:15


A news photograph of some Nilphamari villagers spreading the wings of a giant vulture beamingly was a heartening view. The vulture was found in a badly injured state in the wilderness, possibly battered by strong winds and rain during the recent cyclone. The empathetic and enthusiastic rural youths rescued the bird, gave it treatment at the 'Wildlife rescue and temporary nursing centre'. With the help of upazila forest officials, they released the bird into the open. One can compare this view with another of completely different kind. It shows a small dead fox being carried by some village folks in a triumphant mood. They have chased and finally hunted down the animal immediately after the cyclone. The normally elusive fox had already been scared to death. The rural heroes apparently paraded the village, sporting their trophy.

In these days of unabated urban campaigns to create awareness of the fast vanishing wildlife, the rural areas offer two opposite pictures. On the one hand, it is featured by total ignorance and nonchalance about the necessity of saving the wildlife. The scenario completes its full cycle as hordes of villagers are seen engaged in trapping and killing migratory birds. These orgies concerning guest birds take place mainly in the remote 'haor' areas. Thanks to advocacy drives by the Dhaka-based wildlife preservation groups and their rural branches, the swoops on migratory birds appeared to have started declining. But the respites were short. With the young wildlife activists keeping watch on the errant quarters, the bird hunters keep a low profile. But as soon as they leave a certain venue for another place, the impatient hunters spend little time to get back to their old business. Like before, birds caught in traps are seen being sold in the open at the nearby towns. A great number of them end up being bought by lovers of the meat of exotic birds.

The arrival of migratory birds has declined drastically in the country. Discovering the previously friendly country emerge as a hostile one, the overseas birds have been in the search for newer destinations. Unlike Bangladesh, there are many countries that still offer safe sanctuaries for birds. The migratory birds have long started venturing into those destinations. In the meantime, this country continues to lose its past attraction for foreign birds. The professional bird catchers and hunters are least bothered about the country's continued losses of biodiversity. This phenomenon doesn't come to the fore overnight.

The aforementioned other groups of rural youths are educated, environment-conscious and are untiringly engaged in the mission of wildlife preservation. It's them who are found putting in their best to make people aware of the imperative of keeping biodiversity intact. They lose few opportunities to impress upon the ignorant rural masses that biodiversity loss is set to bring communities or a nation onto the brink of annihilation ecologically.

Due to its temperate climate and dense forestlands filled with myriad types of animals and birds, the state of the country's biodiversity was enviably rich even two to three decades ago. Thanks to the savageries let loose on the land's animal world, it has long turned barren. Hundreds of animals, indigenous birds and reptiles are now extinct. Lots of others are on the way of being wiped out. The rhinos, bison, wild boars and bears once abundantly populated the country's woodlands. They are long considered extinct. The tiger is in focus as an endangered animal. The environmental activists often feel defeated by the hostile forces.  A large-scale biodiversity loss is inviting doom for the country. It's appalling to see the suicidal contentment in which the nation is basking. No qualms. No worries.       

shihabskr@ymail.com  

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