Flying in a pigeon-dream!
The world has changed a lot. The human mind has also changed. But the animal kingdom hasn't changed a bit. An intelligent bird connects the human world since ancient times with their own techniques and features. They are friendly to humans, quiet and calm. They are fast in the air and know no bounds. Even during the wars of the past, the bird worked like a messenger. Bangladesh has moved onward with the bird a long way- some nurturing it as a hobby and some making lots of money.
It is assumed that the first bird humans could keep as a pet is pigeon. This touching, loveable and bright bird is quite famous since the ancient time. World has also recognized it as the symbol of peace. If you look closely, you would feel that they can understand humans. That is why pigeon has been cited in literature and music over and over again. Baakbakum Paira, Mathay Diye Tayra- apart from this famous Bengali children rhyme, pigeons were frequently mentioned in songs as well.
Pigeons have got tremendous energy. They can maintain normal breathing even if they work relentlessly hard. Science has already discovered that the pigeons have an internal compass in the brain. USA's Baylor College of Medicine found 53 neuron cells in the pigeon brain which have unique features in response to the earth's magnetic field. This is similar to the world's most advanced technology, GPS (Global Positioning System). This guides them to North-South-East-West and up-down orientation. It also helps them to coordinate on a mental map.
Communication is one of the most important things that you have to have on the battlefield and it was a very, very hard thing to do. Many a times, pigeon's message helped killing enemies. However, pigeons had to suffer the same. Research has been conducted on pigeon's capacity of flying to their desired destination. Pigeons made the difficult communication system of the past quite easy and simple. Moreover, for their bravery, pigeons won the Deccan's Medal, more than any other animals. Quite surprising, isn't it?
And pigeons are best in long-distance race. Worldwide, the pigeon race is quite popular which attracts many. There are some places in the world where millions of pigeons take part in a race.
I wanted to know about pigeon races in Bangladesh. I talked with a young pigeon racer, Rajib, who told me about Bangladesh's pigeon race scenario.
The pigeons which were used for sending letters were used to be known as 'Carrier Homer'. The developed species of that pigeon is called, 'Racer Homer', which is even faster.
“At first, we bring the breeding pairs from Netherlands, Belgium and other countries. Then, we train the little ones when they are two or three months old. We train them gradually as they fly ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty and then hundred nautical miles”, said Rajib.
They have a club that organizes the whole race where all the pigeons are taken. Then, the organizers tie a secret number on their legs. Then, they are released to their original destination. As per the velocity, the pigeon that reaches first is announced as winner. The pigeons have flown from the farthest Tetulia and Cox's Bazar so far.
“How many races took place in Tetulia”, I asked Rajib.
“Since 2005, there have been seven to eight races”, he replied.
“How long does it take to fly from Tetulia to Dhaka?”
“Three hours max.”
I was really surprised and thought aircrafts should become even faster.
Dear readers, the reason behind telling you so elaborately about pigeons is it has promising prospects. Corporate professionals have made it a hobby, frustrated young people have turned around from frustrations, unemployed housewives nurture it dearly for extra-income and university students can earn well investing a small amount of money. Many people are now involved with pigeon farming in Bangladesh and earning handsomely.
I went to Kazipara at the home of Mashrur, a young entrepreneur who is successfully breeding pigeons like many others. Mashrur's son Taskin became fond of farming pigeons, seeing his father. He can now understand the unique qualities the bird has.
“What class do you read in?”
“How many pairs do you have?”
Little Taskin told me a single pigeon has the intelligence of three human beings.
“If you send me to a new place it'll take days to memorize the map and important locations of that place. Pigeons would memorize all of it by an hour”, added Taskin.
Well, pigeons are a package of surprise, aren't they?
The number of voluntary pigeon farmers in Dhaka is quite huge. I have noticed Pigeon Haat (Market) in different locations of Dhaka, as the farming spread.
In different days of the week, there are some 'Pigeon Haat that take place around Dhaka. One such popular Haat is in Mirpur. In the Haat I saw many entrepreneurs with cages. It was very lively and peaceful. I talked with the organizers to know more about the financial return from such initiatives.
“How much money customers spend behind pigeons weekly?”
“You can say five to ten lakh transactions is done weekly”, said the organizer.
Pigeons have reached the urbanity. It's not that they have naturally come here just for their own sake. They came here to change the fate of entrepreneurs with a magic. It certainly is a magic. The magic led me to travel around the country and meet the important people who are doing it for a long time.
I went to Gohailkandi of Mymensingh's Shankipara, at Nazmuzzoha's residence. He is a sharp entrepreneur who is quite adept and reads pigeons better than many. His mother and also his wife are doing it and making good money.
“At first, my son brought five pairs of pigeons. He loved to see them eat, fly and to spend time with them”, said Mrs. Hosne Ara Begum, Nazmuzzoha's mother.
“Is it still a hobby”, I asked.
“Yes, it's a hobby but the income from it really amazes me. On an average, we earn around 20,000 taka monthly”, replied Mrs. Begum.
Pigeons really give Hosne Ara's daughter-in-law Khadija Akhter inspiration and hope, apart from the financial benefits.
“My husband is involved directly with pigeon farming. I also help him beside my study and family works. It has become a great resource of income for us”, said Khadija.
Young corporate professional, Nazmuzzoha has been able to inject the 'pigeon-fantasy' in his wife and mother. And, he has found many new things in the pigeon.
“This is a great stress-relieving hobby. It can also turn the 'unemployed' to 'employed'. A student can easily meet up his educational expenses and can contribute to his family with the money he earns from farming pigeons”, Nazmuzzoha expressed his view.
Students are farming pigeons beside their studies. They can earn a lot of money from pigeons. It keeps them away from drug addiction. Also, it can be a great entertainment for them, as well.
Really, pigeon has now become a great prospect. I travelled back to Dhaka and went to the home of another promising pigeon farmer, Tanvir Hasan who's been involved with pigeon farming for the last twenty years. On the rooftop, Tanvir Hasan has his pigeon cages. Different species of pigeons are there.
As far as we know, there are around 120 species of pigeons around the world. You would be surprised to know, the most attractive, expensive and eye-catchy species are available in Bangladesh. I saw the most expensive pigeon and wasn't it amazing- the 'Crown Pigeon'.
“How much does this crown pigeon, a single one cost”, I asked Tanvir.
“Five lakh taka”, he replied.
I didn't know the price could be this high and I was so surprised listening to the price for only two of those crowns.
“Why the price is so high?”
“It gives only one egg a year with one single birth. The species is rarely anywhere to be found. As a pet, only eighty pairs are there in the world.”
The whole Bangladesh has three pairs of crown pigeon among the eighty pairs. Such fascinating information kept me constantly stunned.
In Tanvir's farm, there are many other species of pigeons from different countries of the world. He showed me all of them. The specials were, Dragoon Roller, Vienna Short Face, Hana Pouter, Long Face, Berlin Short Face, Beauty Homer, Taganrog Tumbler, American Strasser, Jackobin and many others.
There are two types of pigeon diseases- bacterial and viral. If you use doses of either the groups of tetracycline, amoxicillin and enrofloxacin, any bacterial diseases can be cured, like 'Salmonella'. For viral disease, you need to use vaccines. All the treatments are available in Bangladesh, however with one big lacking is that Bangladesh doesn't have any dedicated laboratory for pigeons. Pigeons became a great commercial prospect because farmers, here, are now actively doing the breeding of it. Our weather is friendly for pigeon breeding. In Europe, they can't do breeding during winter and the summer time is really short there. That is why production rate in our country is really high. If we can nurture them and do the breeding properly, in future we would be able to export pigeon rather than only importing it from Europe.
On the whole, pigeons have shown people of Bangladesh signs of success. The household women, businessmen, servicemen, young and educated students- all those who tried to farm pigeons, became successful. The volunteer pigeon farmers of Bangladesh have moved onward with great success and their success can really inspire many others to make pigeon farming huge, healthy and sustainable. Many can fly in their dreams with success.
(R) thedailystar.net 2012