The ecosystem has been risked and broken in Bangladesh as successive governments have not prioritised it. As the latest bird census says, as New Age reported on Saturday, the appearance of waterbirds fell sharply in the coastal belt in a year. The water bird census was jointly carried out by the International Union for Conservation of Nature-Bangladesh, Bangladesh Bird Club, Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project, Prakriti O Jiban Foundation and the forest department. Drawing from the survey findings, the report concluded that there is a sharp decline in water bird. In January 2017, surveyors counted 41,045 birds which came down to 26,525 individual waterbirds of 57 species this year. Surveyors and wildlife biologists assumed the loss of habitat and food shortage as the primary reason for the decline. It is not just the water birds of coastal belts, endangered species from other regions are also declining for lack of proper attention from the government.
Wildlife biologists and environmental researchers have identified multiple factors contributing to the declining number of water birds. While habitat loss is the primary cause, climate change-induced increase in temperature and interruption in food chain may also have an impact on the species survival that they chose to migrate to other more amenable places. In addition, in coastal areas, politically influential quarters have been grabbing newly formed shoals that are source of food for water birds and turning them into grazing ground for cattle. The Bangladesh Birds Club demanded the government should conduct a thorough research to find out the impact of coastal afforestation for the faster reclamation of submerged shoals on water birds. However, the government has been quite negligent about taking up research projects on data deficient species. In June 2016, the Department of Forest and the International Union of Conservation of Nature have categorised 278 species in Bangladesh as data-deficient since there exists insufficient information for a proper assessment of conservation status to be made. The updated Red List of Bangladesh reveals that 17 per cent are data deficient and are at risk of extinction if comprehensive research and conservation actions are not taken. Meanwhile, severe air and water pollution caused by industrial activities in the Sunderbans together with habitat loss pose serious threats to honeybees and butterflies. They have warned that reproductive and immune capacities of all plant species in the Sunderbans would fall sharply if major pollinators became extinct.
There are a number of policies and acts such as including the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan for Bangladesh that constitutionally obliges the government to prevent extinction and secure biodiversity. With no further delay, the government must, therefore, take initiatives to protect the ecosystem and endangered species.
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