Wildlife in jeopardy in Chittagong Hill Track

As dawn was breaking in the picturesque hill tracts of Rangamati, Langdut, a tribal hamlet by the forest, was so quiet as if the time has stood still there. Just on the edge of the forest a baby elephant was seen shrieking in pain after being badly mutilated apparently by the poachers. The poachers have killed her mother and taken away its ivory and bone particles which are in great demand in black market. The event has created a great commotion and furor in the area and in the Forest Department itself. However such secret practice of poaching and killing is nothing new in the forests of greater hill tracts area. Rampant killing of wildlife in CHT forest is giving rise to fast dwindling of many wild species. The total failure in implementation of Wildlife Protection Act (WPA) is the primary reason why such frequent poaching and smuggling of many wild animals has taken place in the recent times.

The forest department has proved completely inept and ineffectual in introducing adequate measures to stop such misdeeds. Insiders in the forest department have said that there might be a nexus between the racketeers and a handful of employees of the forest department. A recent survey by the forest department itself has showed that due to secret but pervasive poaching a major portion of wild species in the forest are on the verge of extinction. The study has revealed that in the southern part of the forest area where the poaching is of major concern there are of about 75 types of mammals. Seven types of amphibians, 100 types of birds and 25 types of lizards and snakes adding harmony to the bio diversity and eco system of the area.

A study report published on southern forest division of CHT has disclosed that the poachers are very much active in hunting elephants, wild boar, deer etc. Illegal hunting has already caused great decline in the number of bear, monkeys, wild pigs, goyals etc. A section of tribes are adding fuel to the fire by relishing the meat of many wild animals which they consider a part of their longstanding tradition. Many tribes are sticking to the tradition of hunting wild life as a common way of their day to day life. The abundance of firearms both legal and illegal in the name of self defence against wildlife has complicated the matter further.

The tribes, the hills, the forests, the streams and creeks and the wildlife of CHT together are unique in bio diversity. Wildlife Protection Act which was introduced in 1973 but has not been implemented effectively until now should be strictly followed for protecting their harmony. If the past is of any indication to what might lay in store for CHT in future then things do look indeed very grim. However, we should not drive ourselves into total state of pessimism and inertia and should make a concerted effort to protect the unique wild life variety and bio diversity of Chittagong Hill Tracts (S. S. Faruk, Daily Star, March 18, 2005).

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