Journey through Bangladesh
The Tortoises of Hakaluki
There are tortoises in Hakaluki haor in Moulvibazar. Some species of tortoise though, have vanished. The Department of Environment has found the existence of three species of tortoise, whereas there were 12 in the near past. Indiscriminate catching, drying up of the haor beds by unethical greedy fisherman, and the diminishing of aquatic weeds are reasons behind the plunging the number of tortoises that are natural cleaners of water bodies and balancers of the environment.
In the vast water body, there used to be the Malayan box tortoise, Buck pond tortoise, Brahmini river tortoise, Assam rafted tortoise, Median rafted tortoise, Indian buck tortoise, Indian eyed tortoise, elongated tortoise, Ganges soft-shell tortoise, peacock marked tortoise, and spotted flap-shell tortoise. The officials also said, once upon a time huge quantities of tortoise were found in this rich haor. They observed that during the last 2 or 3 years tortoises of many species were not found. There were only three species of tortoise in the haor in recent days. But these species were also dying out. They said tortoises work to clean up the water body by nature. They eat fish, aquatic vegetables and leaves of water-hyacinth. Some people eat tortoise as it is rich in nutrients. These are the ones catching tortoises.
Officials said some fishermen were fishing in Hakaluki haor by drying up with an irrigation pump. Such acts are very harmful to the environment of the haor and also against the law. They said they have taken steps to stop this. They are also trying to preserve the tortoises. 100 tortoises were released in the haor in last monsoon. Three hatcheries have also been setup in the haor area to increase breeding. These hatcheries are located at Ashigar of Fenchuganj upazila, Sylhet, Boragaon of Kulaura upazila in Moulvibazar district and Jagri of Baralekha upazila in Moulvibazar district. Tortoise fries from these hatcheries will be released to the Hakaluki Haor.
(R) thedailystar.net 2008