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The Financial Express

Guest birds, climate, and clean slate


File photo (Collected) File photo (Collected)

With the advent of winter, the severely cold-beaten birds from the North have started arriving in the warmer countries. The vast southern region of the Asian continent would once witness the arrival of these birds every year. The spectacular scenario has vanished from Bangladesh long ago, thanks to the brutal treatment the poor birds were meted out to by a section of people. In the last few decades, the sharp drop in the birds' arrival has alarmed the bird watchers. Many are tempted to conclude that days are not far, when this once-hospitable south Asian country will be shun by these birds: The reason is all too apparent. It comes in the form of the mindless brutalities let loose on these innocent, peaceful creatures.

Nature experts have long been warning humanity against the assaults on nature, especially on wildlife, in order to ensure a balanced global ecology. Unfortunately, few have paid heed. In the 21st century, few segments of these two areas could be found remaining free of the scourge. The situation has reached such an extent that many wildlife species are considered being on the verge of extinction. The phenomenon began with the trees in forests. The density of this gift of nature keeps dwindling. It has long been a bitter reality that shows the blight of denuding of lands in countries of different economic statuses continues to intensify. Indiscriminate tree-felling in Bangladesh is no different from that practised in Brazil and many South American countries. The countries rimmed by the vast Amazon forest have to survive by being in cahoots with illegal loggers in the forest areas.

In the similar manner, the deep forest of the Sundarbans in Bangladesh has to make room for the unlawful tree fellers. Turning to law-enforcers is of no help considering the loggers' invincibility and their sheer invasive power. A similar spectacle is encountered in the vast swathes of the Chattogram Hill Tracts. Many consider the loggers here to be more powerful than those in the Sundarbans. But nonetheless, both the groups rule the roost in their respective areas. The law enforcers are after the illegal loggers, but the latter find safe shelter in their hideouts. Their illegal activities leading to the forest's denuding make the nation pay heavily vis-à-vis the disturbed ecology. Hunting down of the migratory birds is observed casually by the general people. But it's not something to be viewed with nonchalance. For the birds' killing spree in the country's water bodies, swampy areas and the river banks every winter takes a heavy toll on the land's biodiversity. The public outcry over trapping the birds and their sale in the open is a tiny part of the episode.

Few are aware of the fact that the annual killing spree of the birds and their avoiding the sites finally led to the loss of fertility in the surrounding farmlands. In reality, the lands may have been infertile earlier. The assemblage of the birds at specific spots and, later, their dispersal to the nearby croplands leads to the areas' increased fertility. It comes mainly from the bird-droppings. However, all this is part of the mundane facts. The real loss to the country doesn't come in the from the croplands' losing fertility. The greatest loss borne by the country is  its ecology.

Ecology and biodiversity are the two sides of a coin. Like in many other countries, these two are increasingly coming under pressure in Bangladesh, too. Despite its being  unhealthy and dirty, the country is recognised as one of the worst victims of carbon emission. It's very much in the club of the countries affected by sea level rise mostly caused by greenhouse gas emission. The worse-affected countries haven't wasted time to point the finger at the large industrialised nations. The menace of the migratory birds' killing doesn't turn the rich nation's world upside down. It's the problem of the small fries, who commit the crimes like killing the birds or felling trees or encroaching on forests. No rich country, however, threaten them punishment for these crimes. The errant nations can come to grips with these bad reputations. These do not pose any existential problem to them, despite their slowly eroding impact on the outlying nations. However, this can't be a sound logic for dilly-dallying in promising climate change funds for them. In the recent years, Bangladesh and many other fast-developing nations have been seen attending global climate conferences with particular agenda. They want commitment from the rich and influential countries that they will be found beside them if climate disasters start hitting countries one after another.

With the larger catastrophes feared to strike any time anywhere, the vulnerable countries might start paying attention to their domestic environmental problems --- like the migratory bird killing etc. That they should have their slate clean is implied. An auxiliary demand the small nations can tag to the dominant ones could be arranging advocacy classes and workshops for the youths to prepare themselves with all kinds of environmental awareness. They might include learning the ways on how to save the winter guest birds or saving the wider bio-diversity. It's because the birds, the migratory ones in particular, and the native ones in general, have already been singled out as being at the highest risk of disappearing.

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