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The data of the forest department and other wildlife organisations shows that the killing of tigers had almost stopped in the time period between 2017 and 2019. However, since March last year, two royal Bengal tigers have been killed. Apart from that, two tigers were killed after being injured in a trap and in January this year. The forest department and law enforcement agencies detained a man with the skin and other organs of a tiger. So three tigers were killed in the last 14 months.

In reply to a question of an MP of the ruling party in the parliament last September, Md Shahab Uddin, minister of environment, forest and climate change, said as many as 24 tigers had been shot or beaten to death in the last 24 years.

Besides, some 10 tigers had been reported to have died of natural causes. That means each year one tiger is being killed on average.

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According to the forest department and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), as many as 12 elephants were killed last year. Most of these elephants died in electric traps or were shot. However, from 2013 to 2019, the number of killed elephants was between four and five on average each year.

The experts say as many as 44 elephants have been stranded at the one side of the reserved forest in Teknaf due to the establishment of Rohingya camps. These camps have fallen in the main corridor where the Asian wild elephants roam.

Therefore, the stranded elephants move towards the human settlements and croplands from the other side in search of food and to save the crops and homestead,s people kill these elephants.

Speaking to Prothom Alo regarding this issue, Raquibul Amin, country representative of IUCN Bangladesh, said apart from making a corridor through the Rohingya camps, alternative routes should be protected as well for elephant movement. The rest of the surviving 263 elephants would be further endangered otherwise.

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According to the statistics of different international organisations, some 10 whales were reported dead in the last 14 years. However, last year, as many as four carcasses of dead whales were found on the shores in the coastal line.

According to Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Bangladesh, an international wildlife organisation, since March last year, as many as 20 dolphins have been killed till May this year, where in 2019, some 10 dolphins were killed. The number was 14 in 2018 and four in 2017. However, this assessment is based only on the number of dead dolphins washed ashore.

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The Wildlife Crime Unit under the forest department works to curb wildlife killing and crimes including poaching. According to their statistics, other wildlife such as birds, pangolins, Asian palm civets, geckos and wild cats have also been killed or fallen victims of wildlife trafficking.

Regarding this, Wildlife Crime Unit’s director ASM Zahir Uddin Akon told Prothom Alo, “We rushed to the spots as soon as we got any report of killing and trafficking wildlife. This year too, we have continued our work to protect the wildlife despite the coronavirus situation”.

The parliamentary standing committee on environment, forest and climate change said in a statement that a total of 257,000 acres of forest have been illegally occupied by some 160,000 influential persons. In the last few months, only 1,057 acres of forest have been recovered.

However, the hills have become more endangered than the forest during this pandemic. Hills have been cut indiscriminately in Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban.

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The Wildlife Crime Unit under the forest department works to curb wildlife killing and crimes including poaching. According to their statistics, other wildlife such as birds, pangolins, Asian palm civets, geckos and wild cats have also been killed or fallen victims of wildlife trafficking.

Regarding this, Wildlife Crime Unit’s director ASM Zahir Uddin Akon told Prothom Alo, “We rushed to the spots as soon as we got any report of killing and trafficking wildlife. This year too, we have continued our work to protect the wildlife despite the coronavirus situation”.

The parliamentary standing committee on environment, forest and climate change has said 257,000 acres of forest have been occupied by some 160,000 influential persons. In the last few months, only 1,057 acres of forest have been recovered.

However, the hills have become more endangered than the forest during this pandemic. Hills have been cut indiscriminately in Rangamati, Khagrachhari and Bandarban.

The environment department in Chattogram even conducted several drives to stop excavation of hills. On 14 December, in a letter to the cabinet division secretary, Mohammed Moazzem Hossain, the then director of the environment department in Chattogram region, mentioned about different government and private organisations involved in hill cutting.

He wrote that as many as 20 million cubic feet of soil has been cut away from 15 to 20 hills in Chunti forest area in Cox’s Bazar alone. This soil was used in different railway and road construction projects. The letter also mentioned the eviction of 320 illegal occupants from hills.

When asked about this, senior wildlife expert Reza Khan told Prothom Alo, “Most of the pandemic in human history originated from wildlife. As the habitats of the wild animals have been destroyed, human contact with the wildlife has increased. However, even in this pandemic situation, we are observing a severe destruction of wildlife. If it is not controlled, a far more complicated and dangerous situation might arise.”

*This report appeared in the print and online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ashish Basu

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