Ctg, CHT major hubs, Dhaka key destination
Chattogram and the three hill districts are the main hubs of wildlife trade in Bangladesh, according to a recent study.
The study titled "Exploring market-based wildlife trade dynamics in Bangladesh" surveyed 13 wildlife markets across the country.
Of all the species collected for trading, half of them are sent to Dhaka, the study found.
Chattogram and Khulna are the two other major destinations, said the study published in a Cambridge University Press journal in November last year.
Outside the country, Thailand, Singapore, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar have a demand for Bangladeshi wildlife, it added.
Ranked as the fourth most lucrative crime globally, wildlife trade is valued at $320 billion annually.
"Dhaka is the main destination for traded wildlife from seven divisions [in Bangladesh]. More than one-third of these come from the Chattogram division and approximately half of those remain within the division," the study reads.
Wet and winter seasons were the peak time for wildlife trading.
The study, conducted in 2019, aimed to assess the extent of wildlife trade in Bangladesh and the factors driving it.
Researchers recorded a total of 928 incidents of wildlife trading. Birds were traded the most followed by mammals and reptiles.
"Mammals are trafficked to Myanmar and India. There is a huge demand for their body parts in international market, especially in Asia," Nasir Uddin, lead researcher of the study, told The Daily Star yesterday.
The researchers identified 421 traders selling wildlife and interviewed 337 of them.
The study said birds were traded mainly as pets.
The mammals, on the other hand, were generally traded for meat, pelts, and body parts, which are often believed to have medicinal values. Some smaller mammal species, which could be carried and concealed easily, were traded alive, it added.
The study found trading of body parts of carnivore animals and deer in peri-urban markets near the Sundarbans.
Traders acknowledged the availability of body parts of high value species such as tigers, crocodiles, fishing cats and clouded leopards in some of those markets. Trading of bushmeat, especially that of deer, was widespread, according to the study.
At least 20 wildlife traders said they don't keep high value species in shops or houses as they are difficult to conceal from law enforcers. Body parts of these animals or byproducts like oil are safer for trading, they added.
The researchers also found evidence of trading of endangered species, not endemic to the area, suggesting illegal trade from other countries.
"The availability of high-value wildlife in surrounding forests, the demand for bushmeat, the motivation of local poachers and traders, and the inefficiency of law enforcement agencies in and around peri-urban markets are driving the trade," the study said.
The study blamed law enforcers' inaction for the rampant illegal trading of birds. The law enforcers' perception of birds as low-value species is also helping the trade, it added.
Nasir Uddin said the government strengthen monitoring at the hill tracts and Sundarban areasand take specific measures to reduce the illegal trade.
Asked Md Sanaullah Patwary, director of the Wildlife Crime Control Unit of the Department of Forest, acknowledged the illegal trading, but claimed the situation was improving.
"It is not possible to stop wildlife trading completely. From 2012 to 2023, more than 49,000 animals were rescued. We are trying to improve the situation," he said.