12:00 AM, February 10, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 10, 2013

Lalmonirhat Wetlands

Poachers pose threat to migratory birds

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S Dilip Roy, Lalmonirhat

An amateur hunter with his airgun is seen at Mogholhat village in Lalmonirhat Sadar upazila on Friday. He went there from Lalmonirhat town, apparently to hunt migratory birds that are available in the area during the ongoing winter. Photo: STAR

Hunters and poachers are prowling the wetlands of the district and killing and trapping migratory and other birds every day.
Thousands of migratory and local birds flock to the wetlands in the winter every year.
While poachers trap the birds for selling in the markets, others hunt them with airguns just for the sake of fun.
However, both the acts are punishable offences under the Wildlife (Protection and Safety) Act 2012 that may award one year jail and a fine of up to Tk 1 lakh or both.
A local schoolteacher at Gokunda village in Sadar upazila said that every winter hunters with guns crowd the area on Teesta River basin.
“Sometimes the villagers protest the illegal hunting but to no effect,” he said.
“A week ago, we caught two hunters with an airgun and they were released after publicly promising not to hunt birds or any other wildlife again,” the schoolteacher said. He emphasised on an awareness campaign in the villages for saving birds and wildlife.
Morshedul Islam, 65, a retired policeman at Durgapur village in Aditmari upazila, said a section of people are often seen moving around Dalai Lama Beel, district's largest water body, for hunting migratory birds.
“Locals protest bird hunting at the water body but our plea often falls on deaf ears. We have now decided to resist the hunters if they further come to the Beel for committing this senseless and illegal act,” he said.
Atatur Rahman, a resident of Fire Service Road in the district town has been poaching migratory birds for making a living. He said he was not aware of the law that forbids poaching or hunting of wildlife.
“I go to different villages for hunting birds. I hunt seven to eight birds a day and make a good amount of money by selling those in local market,” said Rahman, who was recently found setting traps at Karnopur village in Sadar upazila.
Mizanur Rahman, 40, a resident of Chaklarhat village in Kaliganj upazila, said many people from other districts are also involved in poaching to earn money during every winter.
“I am not aware of the law that forbids trapping birds,” Mizanur also said.
Azizar Rahman, a hunter from Nagerhat village in Pirgachha upazila of Rangpur district, said he was aware of the law but he defies it because hunting brings 'handsome cash amount'.
“We go to different villages especially in the border areas for hunting. Each of us hunts 9 to 10 birds a day and sell those in the town as many dwellers purchase the birds instantly,” he said.
Contacted, Lalmonirhat District Livestock Officer (DLO) Dr. Abu Hossain Sarker, said that hunters and poachers become active during the winter season.
Most of them are not aware about the relevant laws, he said, adding "We shall take up a campaign programme to grow awareness among the people in those areas,” said Sarker.

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