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Authorities must take steps against the migratory bird hunters

31 January 2023

Hundreds of migratory bird species come to Bangladesh every winter. They make the country's wetlands their temporary homes. These seasonal visitors migrate in the ponds, canals and other marshy areas in search of more habitable conditions, seeking respite from extreme cold elsewhere unaware that here; too, they are not entirely safe. Indiscriminate hunting, trapping and selling of local and migratory birds get quite unruly during winter, starting from mid-October to mid-March across the country.
Sylhet division sees a yearly migration of thousands of migratory birds. Despite continuous raids by mobile courts, setting fines and raising awareness, poaching is a problem that keeps persisting. According to the Department of Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation, the prevalence of bird hunters is highest in Hakaluki Haor, Hail Haor and Baikka Beel in Sylhet region, and various other haor-beels and field ghats. Other than seasoned hunters, locals and villagers also partake in the hunting.
A persistent issue behind unabated hunting seems to be a lack of awareness among the public. Either people don't know a species of bird is protected, and therefore, illegal to hunt, or in many cases the hunters don't know there's a steep fine and jail term if they are caught poaching. Section 38 (2) of the Bangladesh Wildlife Conservation and Safety Act 2012 states that any person who procures sells or transports the flesh of any bird or migratory bird mentioned in Schedules 1 and 2 shall be deemed an offender and be liable to the maximum penalty for the said offence -- imprisonment of up to six months or fine of up to Tk 30,000 or both.
What is more horrifying is that both professional and amateur poachers want to take credit for this heinous act. To our great disappointment, we often witness that some people catch these birds and sell them in the market. Poachers set up traps in the middle of wetlands to catch migratory birds. This is posing a serious threat to the country's physical nature and biodiversity. There is a law that prohibits killing wild animals and birds. As the law is not used effectively, this heinous practice of poaching migratory birds continues every winter and does not look to cease in the near future. The authorities must take steps so that this illegal poaching comes to an end.

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