Jahangirnagar University (JU) campus is famous for its unique green land of natural beauty. With the change of seasons, the campus changes its look.
On a certain sweet autumn afternoon, a mild mild breeze descends on the campus grounds shrouded in fog, announcing the arrival of winter.
In winter, the enchanting green campus of JU attracts anyone with its natural beauty and chirping of birds. The sound of guest birds chirping wakes the campus in the morning.
Every year at the end of October, guest birds from Siberia, China, Mongolia, Nepal and other Arctic countries visit the water reservoirs of Bangladesh to escape the severity of extreme cold and food crises.
A significant part of the migration ends in the lakes of Jahangirnagar University. This year too, the water bodies of JU are buzzing with the noise of guest birds like every year.
Migratory birds are now spending their days and playing in these lakes full of red water lilies offering splendid natural views.
According to the university administration, the university has 12 small and big water bodies. But the abundance of guest birds are seen in the lake next to the administrative building, the lake adjacent to Jahanara Imam and Pritilata Hall, the Wildlife Rescue Center lake and near the swimming pool area.
According to the Zoology department of the university, the first guest birds started migrating in the reservoirs of Jahangirnagar University in 1986. 4-5 species of birds including Lanza duck, Karkeni, Sarali used to visit the campus at that time.
Afterwards, the number of birds gradually increased. At present, 50-60 species of birds come to the campus lakes including Lesser Whistling Teal (Chhoto Sarali), Greater Whistling Teal (Boro Sarali), Cotton Pygmy Goose (Balihansh), Pochard (Bhulihansh), Darters (Snakebird), Pintail Duck, Garganey, Mallard Duck, Northern Shoveler and the African Comb Duck.
Rowshon Habib, a 2nd-year student of JU Zoology, said, "There is nothing new to talk about Jahangirnagar University's lush green nature and beauty of the lakes. This regular beauty multiplies a thousandfold when flocks of guest birds swarm the campus lakes during winter. "
Fahim Faysal Mirza, a 2nd-year biology student of JU, expressed his concern while talking to the writer about these guests.
"If the winter progresses, more birds will come. As a university student, I think, We have to be more cautious about them. In order to take a picture of birds flying, many are seen throwing stones at the lake. Such offences should be discouraged strongly.”
“The fact that Jahangirnagar University has become a guest bird sanctuary, should not become a myth for the next generations," added Fahim.
"Birds have started arriving from mid-September like every year. As the admission test is going on, a lot of people are gathering. So the number of birds is still relatively low this year,” said Professor Kamrul Hasan of the Department of Zoology.
"Birds have not yet begun to play in the lakes in the university's transport area due to the gathering and the noise of vehicles. However, a significant number of birds can be seen in the lakes beside the gymnasium, swimming pool and wildlife rescue centre, most of which are Small Sarali (Lesser Whistling),” further added Prof. Kamrul Hasan.
According to him, the best time for birds to arrive is from late November to mid-January.
Md Abdur Rahman, Deputy Registrar of the University said that the university authorities are always vigilant to ensure a friendly environment for the migratory birds.
“We have already placed warning banners along the lake. The lake has also been cleaned to ensure a safe habitat for the birds. Excess water hyacinth from different lakes of the campus has been cleaned and the fence has been repaired where needed."
According to a government estimate, there are 12 sanctuaries for guest birds in our country. However, none of them is a sanctuary to the true meaning as those aren’t totally safe for the birds. Also, birds hunting is still at large despite protective measures.
Hunting Birds is a punishable offence as per the Wildlife Protection Act, 1974 and the Wildlife (Conservation and Security) Act, 2012. The law dictates a penalty of a maximum of one year in jail for killing a bird, or a fine of Tk 100,000, or both. There is also a provision for doubling the punishment and fine for repeating the same crime.
A unique festival ‘Bird Fair’ is organised almost every year by the JU Zoology department to raise awareness about birds.
Convener of the bird fair, Professor Kamrul Hasan, has given a tentative date as well which is January 7. Although the fair couldn’t be held last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, they are hopeful about organising the regular event this year.