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Lawachhara wildlife in danger as apathy prevails
Moulvibazar Correspondent : The wildlife of Lawachhara National Park, a major park in Kamalganj upazila, is declining fast due to acute food crisis and habitat problem.
The wild animals are coming out of the park and entering localities in search of food. Once out, they are either getting killed by local people or being crushed under the wheels of motorised vehicles in most cases as there are railways and roads inside the forest area.
When a big-size python entered a locality in the last week of August, local people attempted to kill it. However, ‘Wildlife Service Foundation (WSF), a private organisation which works on wildlife, rescued the snake.
Although the python was taken back unhurt, the wild animals, in most cases, lose their lives, causing fall in their populations.
The Lawachhara Park, covering approximately 1,250 hectares of land, was declared a national park by the government on July 7,1996 under the Wildlife Act, 1974. Its biodiversity consists of 460 species, of which 167 species are plants, four amphibian species, six reptile species, 246 bird species, 20 mammal species, and 17 insect species.
Sources at the Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation Department of the Forest Department said around 50 wild animals were recovered from the forest and its adjoining areas in the last eight months. Among them, seven were found dead. In 2017, a total 16 wild animals were found dead among 187 recovered animals.
The highest number of animals — 47 — was killed in the forest in 2016 among 230 recovered ones.
However, WSF claimed that at least 20 wild animals were found dead in the last six months in the forest and its adjoining areas. Among them were barking deer, pythons, snakes and monkeys.
Besides, it rescued 40 injured wild animals from the locality. Among the rescued ones, some were released in the forest and 12 are still undergoing treatment.
Wildlife researcher Tania Khan said deforestation is the main reason behind the food and habitat crises of the wild animals. People are destroying forests for making their own houses and cutting down trees for firewood for which wild animals are losing their abode.
Awareness needs to be created among people with a message that they should save the wildlife for their own survival. “People kill the animals for lack of awareness,” she said.
After announcing it a reserve forest in 1996, around 30 percent of trees were chopped down. Besides, huge trees were uprooted during storms. The number of trees is declining for lack of effective steps to stop smuggling and lack of initiative for necessary afforestation, said officials at different NGOs working on Lawachhara.
Admitting the problems, Sylhet divisional forest officer Abu Musa Samsul Muhit Chowdhury said wild animals are being killed when they enter the locality in search of food.
To solve the crisis, he said, big trees will be conserved along with planting fruit-bearing trees.
Musa said a rescue centre for wild animals was established in the park which was later shut for manpower crisis. “It’ll be reopened soon.”
For the safety of the animals, it is necessary to think about alternative to rail tracks and roads that passed through forest.
Joly Paul, convener of Lawchara Forest and Wildlife Life Protection Movement, said the rail tracks and roads through the forest are nothing but ‘death traps’ for the wild animals.
“We’ve long been demanding to relocate the train lines and roads. Without their relocation, it’s not possible to save the animals,” she said adding that if the rescue centre could be reopened, the number of deaths of wild animals will come down.