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The miseries of Madhupur wildlife

Deer and monkeys look for food in the Dokhala area of the Madhupur forest in central Bangladesh. The animals often invade the neighbouring villages when the food crisis turns acute. Photo: STAR

Publication Date : 13-02-2013

 

Driven by hunger and loss of habitat, animals from Bangladesh's Madhupur forest are found invading nearby villages

 

A wide range of wildlife from the Madhupur forest in central Bangladesh have been found to be regularly invading adjacent villages, locals and forest officials reprt.

Driven by hunger and loss of habitat, animals like boars, monkeys, and deer are also frequently killed while crossing the busy Tangail-Mymensingh highway that crisscrosses the forest.

The situation deals a blow to the already-dwindling animal population in the Madhupur forest, which was, not long ago, very rich in wildlife, plants and trees.

Only 20 years ago, the Madhupur forest abounded in monkeys, hanumans, squirrels, deer, fowls, porcupines, hares, wild boars, jackals, fishing cats, civets, lizards, snakes and birds.

Forest department sources describe how, since the country's independence, the forest has shrunk to an area of 10,000 acres from its original 45,565 acres. Indiscriminate felling of trees, poaching and increasing human population in the region have also contributed to its destruction.

The forest department office in Madhupur estimates that at present 300 to 400 monkeys, around 100 hanumans, several thousand squirrels, nearly 100 deer, some wild fowl, jackals and snakes have managed to survive.

Monkeys, hanumans, squirrels and deer are mainly dependant on fruits, including mango, jackfruit, berries, kaika, dumur, ajuli, bohera, amloki and fresh leaves of different plants, which are now scant in the forest. Most wild and medicinal fruit trees have almost disappeared.

The hungry animals often move around the quarters of the forest department's staff, villages and further outside the forests.

The 70 spotted deer which are kept in a pen inside the boundary at the breeding centre in the Dokhala Range area are fed by the authorities. But the barking deer at large face acute food crisis. Besides fruits having disappeared, forest grounds are also grass-devoid and very dry.

“The winter season, especially the period between January and March, is a very hard time for wildlife,” said Rajesh Chakma, Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) in Madhupur.

“We've gotten some help to feed the deer at the breeding centre which is very insufficient. Though the deer should be given food thrice a day, we have only enough funds to feed them once,” he said.

“Resources are also needed to buy food for the monkeys and hanumans at large,” the ACF added.

Hungry primates are now entering the indigenous villages, stealing food and wrecking plantations, said elderly locals Ajoya Mre and Eugene Nokrek.

Asit Ranjan Paul, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in Madhupur, said that the food crisis would be alleviated in a few years, as they have already sown 19 varieties of plants, including several fruit trees, on 20 hectares of forest land, meant specifically for the animals.

“I will write to the higher authorities to allocate more funds for feeding the monkeys and hanumans and also to increase allocation for feeding the deer at the breeding centre,” the DFO promised.

 

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