The Sundarbans' wild spotted deer, known for its shy nature, is now being farmed in Satkhira. A businessman, Abdus Sattar Morol, has set up a deer farm on the banks of the River Galghashia in the district.
Starting with just five deer in 2004, the farm now has 35 deer, including six fawns. Hundreds of visitors come to enjoy the beautiful sight of spotted deer roaming around the farm in Nandakati village of Kaliganj's Bishnupur union.
Abdur Sattar thinks deer farms can play a good role in the economy. He said, "A businessman from Khulna gave me five deer in 2004 and I started the farm just as a hobby. The caretakers of the farm feed the deer the same food for goats."
He further said, "There is no deer farm in Khulna division. Deer farms are a lucrative business. There is also a big demand for venison. Educated unemployed youths can build deer farms, without running after jobs, which can add a new dimension to the country's economy."
"A minister took six deer from me and now he has 11," he added.
Complaining about the Ministry of Forest and Environment, Abdus Sattar said, "Until 2017, my deer farm had approval. But after that, the Ministry of Forests and Environment has been making excuses for not renewing the farm's approval."
"The Wildlife Conservation Department of the Ministry of Forests and Environment is saying that my farm is 19 kilometres from the Sundarbans by air. The farm should be at a distance of 30 kilometres. My farm is 63 kilometres away by river and 50 kilometres away by road. I do not know the distance by air. They are holding back the renewal showing 11 kilometres less distance by air," he said.
Khulna Divisional Forest Officer (Wildlife Division) Nirmal Kumar Paul, said, "Abdus Sattar's farm is within 20 kilometers by air. For this reason, its license is not being renewed. In order to get a deer farm license, the farm must be 30 kilometres away by air. Apart from this, there is no legal opportunity to issue a license."
He added, "Anyone can build a deer farm. However, he must follow the wildlife conservation policy and get approval."
Satkhira Deputy Commissioner, SM Mostafa Kamal, said, "If there is no legal complication, all measures will be taken to build the farm. Interested people will benefit from the farms."
Md Rafiqul Islam, Economics Department head of Satkhira Government College, said, "I think building deer farms can have an impact on the economy. But if the farms are developed only as tourist spots, the impact will not be too great. If the government allows farm-raised deer meat to be marketed commercially, it will have a huge impact on the economy. Many people will be interested in building a deer farm as there is a lot of demand for deer meat."
An entrepreneur of Asashuni upazila's Haribhanga village, Solaiman Hussain, is interested in establishing a deer farm, but he is stuck in legal complications. Solaiman said, "I became interested, seeing Sattar's farm; but due to legal complications I could not proceed with the plan. There is an opportunity to get more profit with less investment in farming deer. There is also demand on the market."
"Deer farms are fast-growing. Every three years a deer gives birth to two cubs. The amount of food is the same as with goats and there is no significant risk of disease," he added.