Wildlife Conserving In Bangladesh


Md. Arafat Rahman :
Wildlife plays an important role in balancing the environment. Wildlife provides a stability to different processes of the nature. Wildlife and nature have been largely associated with humans for emotional and social reasons. The importance of wildlife can be categorized as ecological, economic and investigatory importance as well as conservation of biological diversities etc. Animals have also been highly useful to us in providing food, clothing and source of income. Our life is almost impossible without the support of wildlife. We are also a part of wildlife to make ecological balance on earth. It plays a very crucial role in our life.
Bangladesh has lost more than a dozen of wild fauna during the last century. Of them the following could be mentioned: One horned-Rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis); Javan Rhinoceros (R. sondaicus); Asiatic two-horned Rhinoceros (Didermoceros sumatrensis); Gaur (Bos gaurus); Banteng (B. banteng); Wild buffalo (Bubalus bubalis); Nilgai (Boselaphus tragocamelus); Swamp deer (Cervus duvaucelli); Wolf (Canis lupus); Pink-headed duck (Rhodonessa caryophyllacea); Common peafowl (Pavo cristatus); and Marsh crocodile (Crocodylus palustris).
Since most wild animals largely depend upon the growth, extent and distribution of forests, decline of these natural habitats severely and adversely affect most inland and resident vertebrate fauna. In the last three decades, the stock of forest trees has declined in Bangladesh at an alarming rate. It is estimated that the forest cover has been reduced more than 50% since the 1970s. Estimates in 1990 revealed that Bangladesh had less than 0.02 hector of forestland per person - one of the lowest forest to population ratios in the World. Presently less that 8% of the country is under forest cover.
In an area of about 1,47,570 sq km, Bangladesh has about 34 species of amphibians, 109 species of reptiles, 301 species of resident birds, 176 species of migratory birds, 143 species of ragrant birds, 30 species of birds went extirpated, 120 species of inland mammals, and 3 species of marine mammals. This is undoubtedly extraordinary situation that such a great diversity still exists in an unusually overpopulated country with a very limited range of habitats.
Wildlife helps in maintaining the ecological balance of nature. Killing of carnivores leads to an increase in the number of herbivores which in turn affect the forest vegetation, thus due to lack of food in the forest they come out from the forest to agriculture land and destroy our crops. This makes us know that wildlife helps in maintaining ecological balance even by being predators of each other. Animals are great predators which is the major reason for ecological development. Therefore, once the equilibrium and stability is disturbed it leads to many problems.
The wild life can be used to earn money. Wild plant products like food, medicine, timber, fibers, etc. are of economic value and the wild animal products such as meat, medicines, hide, ivory, lac, silk, etc. are of tremendous economic value. Wildlife provides us the raw and basic material to start any industry, factory etc. for our earnings. Wildlife is also considered to be the one of the greatest factor for increase and better development of world trade and increase in national income. It also helps the farmers the most by providing a better way in ploughing and other techniques. Therefore, wildlife is of immense value to all in economic development. Since wildlife is the source of income to many they play a vital role in their life as the economic factor.
Some wild organisms are used for scientific experiments such as to test effect of medicine. Generally monkey, chimpanzee, etc. are used for scientific experiments. Also animals like rats are first used to do experiments and test before trying them on humans because rats have somewhat same nature and body design that supports scientific experiments. No doubt wildlife supports scientific researches a lot. By conserving wildlife, diversity in the environment can be conserved. According to some scientists an ecosystem with more diversity is more stable.
Habitat destruction decreases the number of places wildlife can live in. Habitat fragmentation breaks up a continuous tract of habitat, often dividing large wildlife populations into several smaller ones. Human-caused habitat loss and fragmentation are primary drivers of species declines and extinctions. Key examples of human-induced habitat loss include deforestation, agricultural expansion, and urbanization. Habitat destruction and fragmentation can increase the vulnerability of wildlife populations by reducing the space and resources available to them and by increasing the likelihood of conflict with humans. Moreover, destruction and fragmentation create smaller habitats. Smaller habitats support smaller populations, and smaller populations are more likely to go extinct.
A wide range of pollutants negatively impact wildlife health. For some pollutants, simple exposure is enough to do damage (e.g. pesticides). For others, it's through inhaling (e.g. air pollutants) or ingesting it (e.g. toxic metals). Pollutants affect different species in different ways so a pollutant that is bad for one might not affect another.
Present day climate change is a man-made phenomenon currently changing Earth's environmental conditions. It's related to some of the aforementioned threats to wildlife like habitat destruction and pollution. Rising temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns, severe droughts, more frequent heat waves, storm intensification, and rising sea levels are some of the effects of climate change. Phenomena like droughts, heat waves, intense storms, and rising sea levels, directly lead to habitat destruction. Meanwhile, a warming climate, fluctuating precipitation, and changing weather patterns will impact species ranges. Overall, the effects of climate change increase stress on ecosystems, and species unable to cope with rapidly changing conditions will go extinct.
In Bangladesh, though few areas are protected under the existing laws, a large portion of its wildlife is currently under serious threat. It is one of the mega biodiverse States in this present world and a wide variety of animal diversity is found in the wilderness areas of this country. Article 18A of the Constitution of Bangladesh deals with the protection and improvement of environment and biodiversity and provides, "The State shall endeavour to protect and improve the environment and to preserve and safeguard the natural resources, bio-diversity, wetlands, forests and wild life for the present and future citizens".
(Md. Arafat Rahman, Asst. Officer (Communication & PR), Southeast University; e-mail: arafat.bcpr@seu.edu.bd)