Mihir Kumar Doe, the conservator of Forests for the Wildlife and Nature Conservation Circle, in an exclusive interview with The Business Standard talks about the state of wildlife in Bangladesh, marking the 'World Wildlife Day' under the theme of "Sustaining all life on Earth"
What does the idea of sustainable use of wildlife stand for?
The world is not merely human-centric. It is also the abode of different species of flora and fauna. Hence, conserving those is crucial. A recent study reveals that the global agricultural yield will drop to over 50 percent if the insects disappear from the earth in a year.
To keep a balanced ecosystem, conservation of all plants and animals is a must. Studies say the Sundarbans will die if the forests' top predator –Royal Bengal Tiger disappears. The Sundarbans stand tall to protect the nature and nearby habitats from natural calamities. If it dies, there will be no natural shield to safeguard the close-by habitats from being swept away.
In a nutshell, the concept of sustainable use of wildlife actually suggests that wildlife should be protected from extinction.
Survival of wildlife benefits people, particularly those who live in closest proximity to it. How does that work?
A balanced ecosystem eventually benefits the people who live within the system. It can prevail when the wildlife and forest thrive in it.
Eco-tourism has the potential to push the wheel of economy by contributing to the GDP growth. Countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal and so on earn a handsome amount in revenues from the eco-tourism sector. Tourists do not want to see monotonous jungles. You see, forest-based tourist spots having rich diversity of wildlife attract more tourists.
Tourists visit the Sundarbans because of the presence of Royal Bengal Tigers and other wildlife. Tourists also prefer to visit some other forests such as Lawachhara in Moulvibazar, Satchhari in Habiganj and Rema-Kalenga in Sylhet – all wildlife habitats.
The government earns revenue from the reserved forests. Fifty percent of the revenues are invested in the social and economic development of the neighbouring communities. It also provides an opportunity to the people to sell products to tourists and generate some income. These developments in the nearby localities also lure in more tourists.
Is coexistence of human beings and wildlife possible?
It is not happening now for many reasons. However, humans and wildlife can thrive in the same ecosystem and it is possible.
Take for an instance, a road and rail tract was planned in a wildlife-rich Indian forest. However, the authority is now constructing a long flyover so that animals can continue to use their corridors.
If we design development projects taking into consideration wildlife habitation and implement them in an eco-friendly style, there is scope for the coexistence of humans and wildlife.
Why are collaborative efforts crucial to 'protect wildlife on earth and below the water'– the objective of World Wildlife Day 2020?
Wildlife is not merely confined to a forest. Rather, there are vast wildlife habitats outside the forests. For example, wetlands like haors are rich in wildlife. Migratory birds thrive there. But the wetlands are out of the Forest Department's jurisdiction.
Conservation of biodiversity is not possible for a single government wing. The Forest Department needs collaborative support from other public wings, for instance, Bangladesh Police, Rapid Action Battalion, Boarder Guard Bangladesh and Bangladesh Customs.
Despite acute manpower shortage, the Wildlife Crime Control Unit tries to control wildlife poaching. In the last fiscal, the unit rescued more than eight thousand wild animals and birds from the poachers.
Support from the local administration is also crucial. Finally, ordinary people can play a vital role in conservation of wildlife by not damaging the ecosystem.