It’s a no big secret that illegal business is one of the most lucrative ventures across the world. Among the top illegal businesses worldwide including weaponry and drugs trade, wildlife trafficking is also added in the list. In the last three years, Bangladesh has experienced the highest number of wildlife trafficking. A number of poached reptiles, mammals and birds were rescued in the last fiscal year (FY). This has always been a great challenge for the government and poses a great threat to the country’s economy and environment.
The US state department submitted a report in the year 2017 titled “eliminate, neutralize, and disrupt” (END) Wildlife Trafficking’ to the US Congress. In the report, Bangladesh was listed as one of the countries which are a transit point for wildlife trade products.
Besides Bangladesh, Brazil, Thailand, Nigeria, Mozambique, Burma, DR Congo, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, South Africa, Gabon, India, UAE, Vietnam, Indonesia, Kenya, Laos, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Togo, and Uganda was also listed under the focus country for wildlife trafficking.
In regard to this, the data available from the Wildlife Crime Control Unit (WCCU) under Bangladesh forest department and law enforcement agencies around 37,039 wild animals and birds were rescued across the country between June 2012 and November 2016. Of all, 19,359 were reptiles and 16,979 were birds.
In the Fiscal Year 2018-2019, a total number of 76 separate wildlife trafficking offences were recorded by WCCU of Bangladesh Forest Department. However, in the year 2016, a total of 85 wildlife trafficking crime were recorded which is the highest of all.
In the year 2018, munia, myna, parrot, shalik were rescued in common along with some migratory birds. Coming to the reptiles, cobra; python; turtles; gecko was found mostly. While among mammals, mongoose; monkey; squirrel; fox, were common. Also, two leopard cubs were also added in the list.
|Year||Mammals Rescued||Reptiles Rescued||Birds Rescued|
According to Wildlife (preservation and security) Act 2012, a maximum punishment of 12 years and a minimum of 2 years imprisonment is set for killing a mammal or collecting, preserving, transporting the meat, buying or selling any of the animal product. Along with this a maximum fine of Tk15 lakh and a minimum of Tk1 lakh in different articles of the law is set for a criminal. Also, the offender may be fined or jailed depending on different articles. One may be fined or jailed or both as per different articles.
WCCU Director (Department of Environment) Mihir Kumar believes that the wildlife trade has reduced due to the quick response of the authorities in charge. The biggest pet market in Dhaka i.e., Kataban has almost become free from domestic bird trafficking. However, for the places including Cholon Beel, Sunamganj Kishoregan and the Chittagong Hill Tracts it cannot be said whether that wildlife trafficking has been reduced. Also, as there are no units at the Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and Benapole land port there are little chances of international wildlife trade cases. Continues efforts and working regularly at the ports can help to bring a positive result.
On the contrary, Dr M Monirul H Khan, professor of zoology department (Jahangirnagar University) is of the opinion that it is hard to tell whether the wildlife trafficking is increasing or declining by just analyzing the number of offences. Reason being, in some cases the origin of the species is outside the country which means a particular country is being used as a transit route of the world trafficking. For that matter, Bangladesh is neither high nor low when talking about the trafficking zone. Concluding he said, the law enforcement agencies should take action against wildlife trade and the WCCU must spread out in order to reduce the cases of wildlife trafficking in order to protect and save the wildlife across the world.
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