Rajshahi Medical College campus and areas around the hospital premises have turned into a haven for birds, with hundreds of Asian openbill (locally known as shamukkhol), night heron, and cormorants nesting and breeding there.
The birds have been making their nests on the trees on the RMC campus and hospital premises, and around Rajshahi Central Jail, Technical Training Centre Rajshahi, and the Institute of Nuclear Medicine and Allied Science (INMAS)-Rajshahi.
Even Asian openbills are making nests on the trees on the road dividers in these areas. The birds are seen flying around for food, collecting small branches and leaves from nearby trees for nesting, and heard chirping throughout the day.
According to locals said, hundreds of these birds have been living in these areas for last three years.
With the Padma River in the vicinity, the birds roam around the river's shoal areas and banks for their food, which they find at ease.
"For nearly the last eight years, Asian openbills have been breeding on some big trees in the Rajshahi Central Jail area. Around a year ago, the jail authority felled some big trees to build a boundary wall. From then on, thousands of birds have now taken shelter in the RMCH area," Mizanur Rahman, founder of environmental organisation 'Save the Nature and Life' in Rajshahi, told The Daily Star.
SM Iqbal, an associate professor of Zoology in Govt MM Ali College in Tangail and president of Bangladesh Biodiversity Conservation Federation, told The Daily Star that Asian openbill used to be a migratory bird before, but now has adapted to the local ecosystem.
"About 15-20 years back, we did not find Asian openbill storks in Rajshahi region this much. Even 7-8 years ago, this stork used to come to our country only for breeding during summer (June to August) and leave the country to warmer places after completing their breeding, but now they have become well adapted to Bangladesh," said SM Iqbal, also a bird expert.
"With sufficient food and safe environment due to awareness building among people, the population of birds is increasing day by day in the Rajshahi region. We have around 150 colonies of Asian openbill, cormorants, night heron, great egrets and other birds in Bangladesh, and almost 118 local conservation organisations under the BBCF are taking care of them throughout the country," Iqbal added.
Wishing anonymity, a staffer of Rajshahi Medical College alleged that many locals and staff of RMCH hunt these birds at night to eat them.
Contacted, Professor Nawshad Ali, principal of Rajshahi Medical College, said the authorities would look into the matter and raise awareness against hunting the birds.