Speakers at a conference yesterday said that at least 31 species of wild animals have become extinct in the last century due to destruction of their habitats by unplanned development activities in the country.
They urged people not to destroy habitats of wild animals by cutting down trees, encroaching on forest land, conversion of forest land into agricultural land, and indiscriminate construction.
They made the observations at a two-day long national conference on “Conservation of Animal Habitats for Sustainable Biodiversity” that began yesterday at Bangladesh Shishu Academy auditorium. Department of Zoology of Dhaka University and Zoological Society of Bangladesh jointly organised the conference.
While presenting a keynote paper on the topic, Dr Reza Khan, principle wildlife specialist of Dubai Safari in the UAE, said that no animal can live without a hospitable environment including food, water and essential soil type but the huge demands posed by an increasing human population in Bangladesh is destroying wildlife habitats.
“We, as a nation, face a great challenge to bring in a compromise that can save both animals and human beings without disserving the interest of either too much,” he added.
He alleged that zoologists in the country are focusing on “commercially beneficial” species and overlooking thousands of others living within the country's territory, though they have a responsibility in the conservation of wildlife habitats for sustainable biodiversity.
In his speech, Emeritus Professor AK Azad Chowdhury, former chairman of Bangladesh University Grants Commission, said conservation of biodiversity is a constitutional obligation of all citizens. “Species like Indian rhino, Sumatran rhino, Javan rhino and Swamp deer have vanished from the country due to lack of care,” he said.
Speaking as chair, Prof Md Akhtaruzzaman, vice-chancellor of DU, said, "God has created earth for humans, animals and insects with natural resources, so we have to protect our environment by utilising all the resources properly."
Among others, secretary to Ministry of Liberation War Affairs, Aparup Chowdhury; Vice-Chancellor of the University of Burdwan (India), Prof Nimai Chandra Saha; Country Director of Worldfish in Bangladesh, Malcolm W Dickson; Chairman of Department of Zoology, DU, Prof Humayun Reza Khan; and President of Zoological Society of Bangladesh, Prof Gulshan Ara Latifa, also spoke at the programme.