an exciting adventure for Enam Ul Haque. Not one to fall prey
to the ennui that sometimes has one in its fierce grip, Enam
has successfully demonstrated that it is possible to juggle
several interests, in his case bird-watching, trekking and photography
which go in tandem with his role as Managing Director of GQ
Industries Ltd. "There is no clash between my varied interests.
In fact, life is more colourful because of my interest in many
different things, especially nature," says Enam.
from a three and a half day trip to the idyllic Nijhumdwip where
he had spent New Year's Eve with a group of outdoors enthusiasts,
he is off again for another weeklong sojourn. This time his
wanderlust takes him and a small team of bird watchers to North
Eastern Bangladesh, more particularly to the Haors (lakes) of
the following weeks he travels to Sirajganj, Gaibandha, Natore,
Faridpur, Feni, Chittagong and Khulna for the bird census. Here
Bangladesh Bird Club, founded by Haque, will undertake the Asian
Waterbird Census -- an annual event eagerly awaited by bird
watchers. Among the birds that will be counted are egrets, herons,
waders and ducks. Other teams have gone out to locales such
as Haila and Hakaluki Haors in Central Bangladesh (Srimongal
and Kulaura) and coastal islands such as Bhola, Monpura, Hatia,
Nijhumdwip, Shahjalal and Dhal-char. There are about 40 sites
where the bird watching enthusiasts go out to undertake a census
in January and February every year.
shot of Sadar ghat from where Enam started for his Nijhumdwip
Bangladesh Bird Club, which was formed in 1996, seeks to promote
bird watching by taking regular trips to forests in Modhupur,
Srimongal, Moulvibazar and Sunderban beside those 40 sites.
Enam, the national coordinator of Bangladesh for the Asian Waterbird
Census, organises most of these bird watching tours. "Our
aim is to protect nature and build environmental consciousness,"
attraction for bird watchers like Haque is the arrival of 200
migratory species from the Himalayas, Nepal and Russia and a
small number from Europe. A major cause of concern for Enam
is the indiscriminate hunting of the guest and local birds like
geese, heron, egrets and ducks. As he states, it is necessary
to protect these birds for future generations as well as to
generate public awareness to prevent their extinction.
One of the
bird watching bonuses for Haque and his team this winter is
the sighting of the crested kingfishers in a remote hill in
Bandarban. The birds were seen during a week long tour of the
Sangu and Matamuhuri reserve forest. There are around 12 species
of kingfishers in the South Asian subcontinent and they are
all recorded before in Bangladesh, but for the crested kingfisher.
is another passion. He says that he is a self-taught photographer
-- in the same manner that he has learnt bird watching, trekking,
snorkeling and scuba diving. Starting photography from 1994,
he has held 15 major exhibitions in Bangladesh and other countries
such as Indonesia, Iran and Singapore. His lens captures the
splendour of nature, especially wild animals and ethnic people
living in remote areas. Among his eye catching photographs are
those bearing titles such as Morning Chill that depicts a boy
shivering of cold and others of sunsets and sunrise. Then there
are others titled Trusting Nature, Alphabets and Sindbad. His
photographic expositions have won acclaim both in his country
and overseas. In 1996 he received a Certificate of Merit at
the Nature-Photo Contest in India. Enam is a life member of
the Bangladesh Photographic Society.
has a flair for the printed word. He writes regular columns
in Womun, the monthly newsletter of UN ladies voluntary organisation
and Digonto, the in-house journal of Bangladesh Biman. His essays
on birds and bird habitat are published in dailies such as the
Jonokontho, Prothom Alo, The Daily Star and The Independent.
He won the Federation of the Environment Journalists of Bangladesh
(FEJB) award for the best newspaper article on nature in 2000
for an article in The Daily Star on migratory birds.
of his close association with nature and birds, in particular,
Enam is a life member of the Bombay Natural History Society,
the famed organisation once headed by the great Indian ornithologist,
Dr Salim Ali. He maintains his long standing friendship with
Dr Asad Rahmani, the president of the Society and SA Hossain,
an avid bird expert who studied under Dr Salim Ali.
choose between his diverse interests, he says he would definitely
give first place to travelling. So far Haque's expeditions have
been to diverse locales such as hills of Bandarban district,
Andean mountains in Chile and Irawaddy River Valley in Myanmar.
noteworthy journey, he reminisces, was to the icy continent
of the Antarctica where he went to watch and photograph penguins
in January/February 1997. Accompanied by a team from countries
such as USA, UK, South Africa, Italy, Malaysia and Japan, Haque
drew the distinction of being the first Bangladeshi to set foot
on the Antarctica.
Lover Enam Ul Haque
the moment Enam's Trekking Club has its hands full. He formed
a group, Bangladesh Everest Team No 1, and initiated mountaineering
for the first time in the country. In October last year, the
Bangladesh Everest team sent a member to the Nehru Institute
of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi, India and in March will send
four more including a woman to the Himalayan Mountaineering
Institute in Darjeeling, also in India. This group, along with
three others lead by Enam, will go in May to the Everest Base
camp in Nepal. In September, Enam will lead a team to the peak,
Jogin 1, a Himalayan Peak in India. "This will prove very
exciting because it is the first climbing of a Bangladesh tea,"
the call of the wild when he was a mere boy. Growing up in a
village called Hijlabot in Kushtia, he recalls the presence
of leopards in the wilderness. "Every year the villagers
would kill the leopards because the latter carried off the cattle.
Now there are no jungle cats leave alone other wildlife in my
old village," reminisces Haque. He became even more of
an outdoor person at the age of 12. He recalls the exhilaration
of getting of his cycle and pedalling off a road leading to
a village near Faridpur where the family had moved from Kushtia.
However, this exciting adventure turned scary when at sunset
he realised that he was lost and would have to take the villagers'
suggestion of spending the night with them. His disappearance
naturally caused agitation in his family but the next day the
villagers saw him safely home. His father, Yusuf Ali, was at
this time working with the Public Works Department (PWD); later,
he, on his retirement, became a businessman.
up in Hijlabot with pets such as dogs, cats and birds, Haque
remembers his parents as animal lovers. For 30 years he kept
birds such as doves and pigeons in cages. However when he developed
an interest in bird watching, he released his caged pets. "Now
I watch wildlife in its own habitat," says Haque. He also
underwent a significant change in mindset. "I got hooked
to meeting new people, going to new places. I would take my
cycle and pedal off to new neighbouring places such as Magura,
Jessore and Rajbari,"he says.
As he explored
new frontiers in Bangladesh and abroad, Enam realised that he
was innately different from other people. "Most of my friends
spend far more than I would on expensive holidays, hotels, clothes,
food, house and furniture. Most of my activities are inexpensive
since money required for a trekking or a nature-expenditure
is still insignificant."
trekking and his other activities have very few takers in Bangladesh,
bemoans Enam. This is perhaps understandable for a relatively
new country where the middle class and lower income groups struggle
to eke out a living. Amplifying on his philosophy, he says:
"I could never live life like a race or a penance for misdeeds
in the past and present lives. You could call me a hedonist
as I do what gives me pleasure. And my interests are enriching.”