'Festival of poaching' endangers bird life in Bagerhat beel

With the advent of winter migratory birds have come to Bangladesh.
Sowrav Das

Although the poaching of birds is a punishable act, it is going on unabated in Bagerhat under the noses of the local administration.

Hunters and poachers are using an array of new methods to trap different species of birds including dahak (white-breasted water hen), Bok (herons), kora (Water cock), jalpipi (Bronze-winged jacana), buck, maasranga(Kingfisher) and so on in the wetlands and forests of the district.

The Kodalia-Kalshira beel (huge wetlands) covers a large area of Chitalmari, Fakirhat and Mollahat upazilas of Bagerhat. Known as 'Joy Khan Jalmahal', this beel is home to various species of birds. But although once regarded as a safe haven for birds, this wetland has now turned into their slaughterhouse.

Poachers are using traps made of cut and nylon yarn to catch birds every day. From a distance, it would seem that power lines have been drawn across the beel. But in reality, those are not electrical lines but leaf traps for hunters to catch birds.

Even solar panels and sound boxes have been installed in the water body. The calls of different birds are played out with the help of a mobile. Drawn by the sound, flocks of birds rush towards the trap to meet their fatal fate.

It all prompted our correspondent to claim it was as if he was witnessing a festival of poaching.

Experts say that if the bird habitats are not protected, the life and reproduction of birds will be threatened. If strict measures are not taken in this regard, it will be difficult for the birds to survive. It would have an adverse effect on the biodiversity of the region.

Every year during the northern hemisphere's winter season, migratory birds from various regions with very harsh and cold climates, including remote Siberia and the Himalayas, take refuge in the country's haors, beels and ponds in search of shelter and food.

These birds may not be native species, but they are part of the ecosystem that sustains us, so they to need our protection from hunters and poachers, experts urged.

According to recent stats, Mollahat-Chitalmari Joy Khan Jal Mahal covers an area of 36 acres. About 200 species of birds come here during the winter season.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner Azizur Rahman said action would be taken soon against those involved in bird hunting. He also said that raids would be carried out in the beel area if necessary.