to a poor family on the bank of the river Buriganga in Char
Wasspur, Din Islam was forced to drop out of school at a
very early age. The eldest of six brothers and sisters,
Islam's childhood was mostly confined to a workshop that
operated lathe machines. Later, as a young man, Islam learnt
to repair various electronic appliances and earned a meagre
sum working at a shop in the city's Jigatola area.
back in the eighties, a few years after he got married,
that a small event changed his life altogether. On a shopping
trip to New Market, his three-year-old daughter Shumi, pointed
her finger at some caged birds and said she did not want
a frock but two of those munias instead. Islam
quickly gave in to Shumi's demands.
Islam and his daughter enjoyed the company of the munias.
Several years later, when a friend told him that he could
legally breed many other birds in captivity, Islam grabbed
recalls how he had lied to his wife, Laila Islam alias Parveen,
about the price of the three pairs of Java, each pair costing
Tk 1,800. "I did not dare tell Parveen, who bore the
brunt of the hardship at home, that I had invested my savings
of Tk 5,400 on those three pairs of Javas."
months after the Javas had hatched a dozen chicks, a buyer
arrived at Islam's doorstep. For Islam, it was a day he
would never forget. The chicks fetched him Tk 20,000 in
come chicks are so highly priced while you told me the three
adult pairs were 360 taka?" Islam quoted his wife saying.
Islam says he eventually confessed to Parveen but explained
to her that he had concealed the fact for the sake of the
family's welfare. From that day on Islam and Parveen have
never looked back.
years later, the Islam family, with two sons and a college-going
Shumi, is one of the most successful breeders of caged birds
in the country, having more than 1,000 rare and common birds
of various species. Islam and Parveen have bought an acre
of land by the river and set up their farm, which the entire
family looks after. Buyers from all over the country come
to Islam every day. And the good thing is Islam and Parveen
do not preserve any trade secret as the couple readily offers
all sorts of dos and don'ts to people who want to join the
of caged birds is spreading fast in the country. Like the
Islams, there are more than 200 breeders in the country
producing both common and rare birds in cages. With a perfectly
ideal climate for round-the-year breeding in Bangladesh,
the sector promises a huge prospect in the international
102 members, Azizul Haque Farhad is the Senior Vice President
of the Bangladesh Cage Bird Breeders Association (BCBBA).
He says that Islam's story could encourage young men to
join the trade, which is easy, cheap and extremely rewarding.
Some people believe that caging is a cruelty to birds but
Farhad explains that the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF)
recognises keeping and breeding of exotic birds in cages.
it not been for the bird breeders, the world would have
known nothing or little about the existence of more than
300 types of lovebirds, Farhad says. "Today, only two
types of lovebirds are found in the wild and hundreds of
species have simply become extinct from the wild,"
may start breeding in a small cage anywhere at home and
all it takes is a maximum time of 30 minutes a day,"
continued Farhad, "it is always preferable to buy,
say, if you choose to buy Budgeriger, three months old chicks,
with proper care in another three months' time the birds
will start laying eggs."
of exotic birds could bring prosperity to anyone. Although
the local markets are limited within the connoisseurs and
in places like Katabon in Dhaka, more and more people are
going into this legitimate business. Breeding can be so
lucrative a business that if you present five pairs of Budgeriger
to a poor girl of Class 4 in a village and teach her how
to maintain them, she would not only be totally self-reliant
within five years but also be able to pay for her higher
studies and marriage, says Farhad.
Ahmed, a photojournalist for New Age was inspired
by the pioneer of exotic bird breeding in Bangladesh, late
Matiar Rahman Sanu. Bulbul says that he and his wife look
after the birds they have at home. "When we are with
the birds I forget everything, there is no tension, no stress
whatsoever, and both of us know we have a substantial income
coming from them," Bulbul said.
of the BCBBA say that the demand for exotic birds in the
international market is very high but since it is a new
domain, it has not taken proper shape in Bangladesh. The
government is indifferent to it and cannot be convinced
that this can also be a profitable industry. For instance,
recently Prime Aviary, a local company applied for a loan
of three crore taka from the Rajshahi Krishi Bank to set
up a large exotic bird breeding farm in Sherpur, Bogra.
The whole idea generated disbelief among the bank officials,
who turned down the application terming it "absurd".
to BCBBA officials, three years ago, a German pet shop wanted
500 pairs of lovebirds from Bangladesh every month over
an indefinite period but all breeders combined could not
fulfill the demand. Unless there is an industry, this sort
of large scale production will not be possible.
breeders complain about the hassle they face with the customs
while importing exotic birds from abroad. Interestingly,
Environment and Forest and Fisheries and Livestock ministries
are now at loggerheads over who will take control of the
bird breeding sector. Recently an importer was in big trouble
when the Forest Department confiscated an imported consignment
worth more than Tk 3 lakh. It contained 52 fancy pigeons,
each pair worth Tk 10,000 in the local market, three pairs
of fancy hens and other exotic birds. The Ministry of Fisheries
and Livestock had earlier issued permission to import these
birds. The Department of Forest brushed aside the livestock
ministry's clearance and confiscated the stock at the airport
and sold the consignment on auction at an 'unbelievable'
price of Tk 7,000.
the frequent tussles between the two ministries, the importers
and breeders went to the Environment and Forest Minister,
who, in turn, formed a committee to chalk out an official
guideline on import and breeding of fancy birds. In the
country the wildlife preservation act of 1974 gives a guideline
on the import of wild animals but it does not mention anything
about exotic birds bred in captivity. Since May 2004, the
committee, headed by Joint Secretary (admin) Mihir Kanti
Majumdar, has held two meetings without much progress about
the establishment of a guideline. Meanwhile, breeders and
importers continue to be hassled.
If you are keen on breeding exotic birds the following
are the principles to bear in mind. Professional
breeder, Azizul Haque Farhad, who is also offering
to help anyone interested in breeding, gave these
1. Always buy exotic birds born in captivity.
2 Avoid buying adult birds. An ideal pair should
be three month old chicks.
3. Try finding private breeders to buy your birds.
4. Make sure you are buying a male and a female
bird for breeding and only experienced breeders
could help in this regard.
5. Maintain required space for every different species
of exotic bird.
6. Prevention is better than cure -- and always
take preventive measures to avoid death of birds.
7. Put a flat bowl with water in it for bathing
and keep it only for two hours from 10 am till 12
8. Take expert advice on food at different stages
9. Show your interest during maintenance.
10. Give the birds water that you drink, not water
from the tap.
1. Never buy wild birds for keeping or breeding.
Remember it is a criminal offence to cage wild birds.
2. Do not leave the food and water unclean at any
time. Also never leave the food trolley and water
3. Do not keep birds where rat infestation is a
For further information contact Azizul Haque Farhad
or Din Islam - 0171400853
(R) thedailystar.net 2004