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Thursday, June 26, 2008
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Wildlife decreasing fast in Modhupur forests

Shrinking of forests, food shortage and poaching blamed

Red-mouth monkey is one of the fast decreasing species in Modhupur forest.Photo: STAR

With shrinking of forest areas, wild animals in Modhupur forests in Tangail district are decreasing.

Shortage of food, poaching and negligence of duties by the forest department officials are also responsible for the imperilment of wild animals in the forests.

Many kinds of wild animals including leopard, wild buffalo, wild cow, wild hog, wild cock, peacock, spotted deer, jackal, wild cat, mongoose, wild goat, red mouth monkey, black mouth baboon, porcupine, squirrel, hare, pangolin, wild cat and bobcat etc were seen in Modhupur forests only three to four decades ago, said Forest Department officials and indigenous residents of Modhupur.

Besides, a large number of different varieties of birds including hawk, kite, vulture, mynah, nightingale, swallow, owl, pigeon, dove, skylark, sparrow, woodpecker, parakeet, parrot, different varieties of martin, dove and kingfisher were available in the forests.

There were also different varieties of reptiles and snakes including python and poisonous cobra, different varieties of frogs, numerous varieties of environment friendly worms including earthworm, ant and white ant, many varieties of butterflies in Modhupur forests.

Land grabbers have occupied total 20,000 acres out of 45,565 acres of forestland in Modhupur region by using forge documents. The grabbers, most of them local influential people, have raised different orchards including banana and pineapple cutting and destroying forests, they said.

There is also 17,436 acres of forests under Modhupur Garh region in Mymensingh district.

The government raised a National Park covering 30,000 acres of forestlands in Modhupur region in 1962.

Forests in Modhupur region are shrinking fast due to indiscriminate cutting of trees, encroachment of forestlands, use of forestlands for rubber gardening and raising fruit orchards, forest department sources said.

Massive destruction of forests still continues while steps taken by the local administration and forest department are too ineffective, locals alleged.

Most of the wildlife of Modhupur forests including leopard, wild buffalo, wild cow, wild hog, peacock, wild goat, porcupine, hare and pangolin have already gone lost due to shrinking of forests, shortage of foods and poaching by a section of local residents.

Thousands of red mouth monkeys, black mouth baboons, hares, squirrels, wild cocks, jackals and hundreds of spotted deer were seen in Modhupur forests several years ago.

But the number of these wild animals has greatly reduced following food crisis due to unusual decrease of trees and plants in Modhupur forests.

Often wild animals are seen moving near residential areas due to shortage of their foods in forests.

Many birds including hawk, mynah, nightingale, and parrot etc are seldom seen in Modhupur forests now. Besides, a variety of environment friendly worms, ants, butterflies and honey bees have been lost due to indiscriminate use of chemical fertiliser and harmful insecticides on banana and pineapple gardens in the forests.

Different kinds of snakes including pythons and cobras are also decreasing.

Over 70,000 people including 25,000 indigenous people living in forests under Modhupur Garh region in Tangail and Mymensingh districts, depend on the forest resources for their livelihood, forest department sources said.

Most of the indigenous Garo and Coach people in Modhupur Garh, catch different animals including hare, monkey, baboon, squirrel, wild cock and porcupine in Modhupur forests to eat their meat, they said.

Local indigenous leaders, however, said a massive destruction of forests started during the 80s of the last century and the wildlife in Modhupur forests stared decreasing since then.

Natural sal forests were destroyed to raise woodlot gardens with different foreign trees including eucalyptus in Modhupur forests in 1993, which caused acute food shortage for the wild animals and birds, they said, adding, “Huge environment friendly worms were destroyed as fire was set to clean forests."

When contacted, Rabindranath Adhikari, assistant forest keeper in Modhupur, told The Daily Star that they have been planting different kinds of local and wild fruit plants including mango, jackfruit, berry, guava, and haritoki, bahera and amloky species of myrobalan in the forests since 2003 to help the surviving wildlife of Modhupur forest, especially monkey, baboon, deer and squirrel.

Prompt action against the poachers cannot be taken due to shortage of manpower and logistics, he said.

"To save Modhupur forest resources including its wildlife, steps are to be taken to create livelihood for the local people and improve their economic condition. They should be made aware about the necessity of saving forests, its wildlife and biodiversity," he added.

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