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     Volume 10 |Issue 22 | June 10, 2011 |


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Slay the Destroyers Now

Mohammad Ali Sattar

Two news item carried in the front page of the Daily Star of June 5 are terrifying to say the least. One depicts the story of the arrogance of forests dons and the other, the more pathetic, is the gradual extermination of wildlife. The message from the story is; large numbers of the animal population along with other species of plants and birds that adorn the woods are in the process of extinction.

I take the second story first. Why are the animals forced to come out of their area and stray into human habitat for food? And in the process get killed by the humans who guard themselves, their poultry and cattle from the wild animals? The reason that the animals come out of the abode is the scarcity of food in the woods. This is because the forest areas have been receding fast due to human poaching. Different species of birds and other animals have either left for other sanctuaries or have simply vanished with time.

Habitat Loss: The Indian Pangolin is losing its home fast and elephants and leopards are being killed as they wander into settlements searching for food. Photos: Star File

The forests were once rich foliage for wild life to thrive on. Today these are easy targets for poachers. The arbitrary and mindless destruction of woods across the country has come to such a pass that the existence of wildlife is under genuine threat and its total extinction is only a matter of time. They have lost their grip over the area that should have been only their own. No wonder they stray into alien lands out of duress. They are actually pushed into such incursive roles by those who take away their spaces in the name of human habitation.

Moreover, we also come across news and pictures of wild beasts or even innocent whales beaten to death by the people of the area where unfortunately they get caught. Instead of trying to save these rare species, that barely cross our path, we take pleasure in getting involved in the orgy of killing either by collective stoning or piercing it with sharp weapons. Not once do we feel the pangs of suffering that these hapless creatures undergo till their slow and painful death.

Let me give you some horrifying data: an average of 75 acres of forest land in the world is destroyed every hour of every day; as many as 48 species of life forms are pushed into extinction every day due to human aggression in the form of making paper; annual deforestation rate in South Asia is 0.6 percent and it is 3.3 percent in Bangladesh. We are running far short of the world standard.

Bangladesh has lost about 10 percent of its mammalian fauna, 3 percent avifauna and 4 percent reptile during the last 100 years. A total of 201 species of wildlife in the country are faced with extinction.

The unplanned building of human settlements at the huge cost of greenery is the main reason for the current crisis. And there is a group of profit mongers who take to logging and clearing of lands for brisk dealing. In the process, they cause severe damage to the balance of nature. They destroy natural abodes of the wild life, they destroy their food and sanctuary, thus putting the very existence of the precious wildlife in danger, they create rise of temperature by clearing the woods and cause desertification, which in the long run doesn't help grow regular seasonal crops on barren lands.

Photo: Mirza Shakil

On the one hand we destroy their hearths on the other we kill them at will. As the superior being, we should rather protect them and allow the life they are entitled to. And in the process we endanger our lives too.

And now the first story. It's perilous. It's a saga of the forest dons who carry on illegal timber trade without much ado. They have their establishments in operation to fell trees in the reserve forest land and process them in their saw mills and traffick away to lucrative buyers.

Not only disturbing is the fact that they are clearing the greenery by way of highly syndicated trading; more perturbing is that they are doing it in full defiance of the government orders and in collision with ruling party men. The government rule is; you cannot build a saw mill within 10 kilometres of the reserved forest but there are as many as 52 illegal saw mills set up inside the reserve forests to clear the woods of rare and valuable trees in return of huge profit.

This has been going on for many years now. People are easily lured to this trade as these areas remain out of the sight of the district administration and gives quick bucks. Local government cannot manage effective monitoring. The local law enforcing agencies do not have adequate logistics to control the fad. Hence the freedom to trade in a free land!

The local people along with the forest officials and local ruling party men all make a strong nexus and are up to total annihilation of the state assets. If this goes on unabated we shall soon see more saw mills mushrooming along the fences of the reserve lands and more brisk business in motion, eventually turning all forest lands of the country into a virtual waste land.

Not to speak of the far off places, even our city planners and their cohorts are no better than the organised poachers. Trees are felled at will to make spaces for constructing commercial centres, walkways or resting points in the city. Greenery is fast diminishing in Dhaka. 'Plants and leaves' will be in museums in a short while.

The villains don't have the right to endanger the vast landscape of the country and the lives therein. Before they eliminate us, we should destroy them.

The crying need of the hour is to save all the nature's gift. We need the greenery as it also needs our love and care. The wildlife roaming the woods deserves a longer life. And our posterity should be handed a safer climate.



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