In Kangalpara village of Botlagari union in Nilphamari district, first time visitors will be surprised to see many banners hanging on trees, buildings or electric poles declaring the entire area to be a “crow sanctuary”.
Considered a nuisance and often completely ignored in other parts of the country, crows are given a home in this small part of Bangladesh where they are lauded for their role as nature's own cleaning crew.
The celebration of their role in the environment has led to the crows being found in abundance in this village. Sitting atop trees, on bamboo clusters, bushes and moving freely as they please.
The Kharkhoria river flows through this locality in Saidpur upazila and the crows have chosen this spot to flock and as their bathing spot.
Kangalpara's new found reputation came with the help of a voluntary organisation, Setubandhan, in collaboration with Saidpur police station. Together, they launched an awareness campaign to inform the locals of the crow's integral role. In time, the birds went from being unwanted to being loved and cared for.
Abdul Awal, a teacher of the zoology department in Saidpur college said, “Like other birds, crows usually look for safe shelter and they get it at Kangalpara where they also find good source of food as the landfill of Saidpur municipality is situated nearby.”
Another local informed that the waste from local restaurants also go to feeding the crows instead of rotting out in the open.
However, it was no easy transition. A farmer, Hatem Ali, 60, said, “Crows start returning to the village before sunset to pass the night and they make a lot of noise even till night but the local people have gotten used to it.”
The changes are indeed remarkable. The children no longer throw stones at the birds and the feathered friends actually allow humans to get close to them. The bond shared between man and bird is evident to see.
Alamgir Hossain, president of 'Setubandhan' said, “Natural cleaners such as vultures and kites are now on the verge of extinction due to our disregard for them.
We thus took the initiative to make Kangalpara village a crows' sanctuary to create peoples' awareness as they protect the environment by clearing waste and dead creatures,” he added.
Al-Helal Chowdhury, chairman of Botlagari union parishad said, “We're happy as our village has gotten a special identity for laudable service to crows.”
And if the free birds could sing, they too would be waxing lyrical about their new found sanctuary.