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Protect the biodiversity of the Sundarbans

Though the Sundarbans is playing a motherly role for our existence, in many cases, we are reluctant to recognise its contribution. There is a wise saying that let the nature be natural. In the world of nature, artificial development does hardly suit its environment and may have a significant negative impact on the biodiversity.
Alaul Alam
Protect the biodiversity of the Sundarbans

The Sundarbans is the world’s largest mangrove forest and one of the world heritage sites, which is a part of the world’s largest delta formed by the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. It is the national habitats of the world’s famous Royal Bengal Tiger, spotted deer, crocodiles, jungle fowl, wild boar, lizards and many more birds and various living species.

Not only that, the number of different trees like Sundari, Gewya and Garan and what not, along with thousands of creeks, rivers and estuaries has given the forest a unique appeal.

The forest contributes enormously to protect ecological balance and biodiversity in the country. On top of that, the livelihoods of the thousands surrounding the forest are connected to its existence.

It is evident that in tackling natural calamities and reducing the impact of waves, storm surges and high winds this mangrove forest has been playing a very crucial role. For example, in the time of some past super cyclones such as Sidr and Aila and Bulbul this forest tackled the maximum devastation though it endured a dire catastrophe at every calamity. The climatologists predict that the loss of mangrove forest may result in severe disruption of the protective shield against cyclones and tsunamis. Consequently, the coastal communities may bear the most brunt of it.

Though the Sundarbans is playing a motherly role for our existence, in many cases, we are reluctant to recognise its contribution. There is a wise saying that let the nature be natural. In the world of nature, artificial development does hardly suit and may have a significant negative impact on the biodiversity. We know that many industrial projects have been developed close to the Sundarbans, which is supposed to bring negative impacts on the natural atmosphere of the forest putting it at high risk.

More often, environmentalists protest not to establish human infrastructures on the surrounding of the forest but many protests go unnoticed by the concerned. It seems that either we are not generous to save our Sundarbans or we do not have a good understanding on the reward the forest is providing us. Not only that, illegal cutting of trees is random. Different studies show that the forest area has shrunk to a level and in the inside of the forest the density of trees is not as much as in the surface of the forest.

It is estimated that over the three decades from 1975-2010, agricultural activities had destroyed around 17,179 hectares of mangroves while shrimp cultivation had destroyed another 7,554 hectares. It has been a matter of concerns that despite the Sundarbans being our guardian angel, our actions and interventions are risking its biodiversity and also causing extinction of many wildlife species. In many cases, human interventions have been more catastrophic than climatic interference on the way to the extinction of the plants and animal species in the forest.

A recent report reveals that 24 per cent of 1,619 animal species may go extinct soon. Similarly, more than 40 species of amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals are considered critically endangered. Different researches claim that the number of tigers has increased in Sundarbans over the years.

But the number is not as much as was supposed to be as natural and man-made disasters are still on the rise posing a serious threat to them.

On top of that, this forest is damaged due to climate change, global warming, rise of sea surface height, cyclone, salt water, etc. It is a matter of concern that Royal Bengal Tiger's residence is decreasing in Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans. According to the survey in 2015, there were only 106 Bengal Tigers in Bangladesh part of the Sundarbans. Later, 114 tigers were identified in 2018.

However, every time the concerned authority of the Sundarbans announces red alert to stop poaching and trafficking of wildlife after the forest faces any man-made cruelties. But how far this alert works to prevent such ill-doing is an issue of long debate, rather their attitudes cannot but awake dire criticism amid the public. In most cases, after the damage is already done, they attempt to catch the culprits and in many cases the efforts to save the wildlife cries in the wilderness.

Certainly, in most cases, we are responsible for putting the Sundarbans at risk with our own deeds to satisfy our interest disregarding the common interest. Again can we deny that the dire impacts of climatic change are not our own creations? In most cases, we are responsible. So, be wise and stop endangering our most precious Sundarbans.

The writer teaches at Prime University. He is also a research scholar at the IBS, Email: [email protected]

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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