Future Biodiversity Conservation in BD

A Snared tiger in the Sundarban in 2014. Photo: M Abdullah Abu Diyan

Scientists have estimated that there are around 8.7 million species of plants and animals in existence on earth which are counted as biodiversity. Only 1.2 million species have been identified so far where the majority of them are insects; millions of other species under a full of mystery.

All elements of biodiversity are an integral part of the global ecosystem, carries huge ecosystem values for human being. Among many elephants, wildlife is one of them which traditionally refers to undomesticated animal species but has come to include all organisms that grow or live wild in an area without being introduced by humans.

Global biodiversity is under peril to a different extent in different areas. According to the WWF living planet report 2016, from 1970 to 2014, there was a 60% overall decline of global biodiversity (mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish) population. In specific areas, freshwater populations have declined more than 83 percent since 1970.

Along with overall decline, some specific animals that mostly faced problems are Pangolin, Tiger, Rhinos, Elephant. Due to wildlife crime every five minutes a Pangolin is poached, every 30 minutes an elephant is killed for their ivory, every 8 hours a rhino is poached for its horn.

Nature provides supports to humans by contributing culturally and spiritually, as well as through the critical production of food, clean water, and energy, and through regulating the Earth’s climate, pollution, pollination, and floods. For many of the threats that are declining biodiversity are man made. Most of the cases human activities are destroying nature at an unacceptable rate, threatening the well being of current and future generations.

There are many factors already mentioned that are responsible for declining biodiversity in the earth. Most driving factors that are responsible for reducing biodiversity are habitat loss and degradation, species over exploitation, pollution, invasive species and diseases, climate change, etc. Among those the biggest cause of biodiversity losses is the destruction of natural habitats, much of it to create farmland.

Three-quarters of all land on Earth is now significantly affected by human activities. In 2018 the world lost 12 million hectors of tree coverage and the similar trend still ongoing across the world. Killing for food is the next biggest cause– 300 mammal species are being eaten into extinction– while the oceans are massively over fished, with more than half now being industrially fished.

Climate change is now such a state that in the last 100 years the average global temperature has increased by 0.74°C, rainfall patterns have changed and the frequency of extreme events increased. So, we have to combat these factors as early as possible to save nature. Otherwise, we have to face a very big problem with nature near the future.

This is high time to come forward to save the nature and biodiversity. So, every year the United Nations has proclaimed a date to celebrate The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues and date is May 22. This year we observed international biodiversity day in a moment when many countries are under locked-down.

Basking crocodile in Sundarban. Photo taken by Author

COVID-19 the pandemic, origin of which is yet to confirm is believed to be originated from wet market related to wildlife trade and consumption of pangolins, horseshoesbats and snakes. So, it’s high time to raise global awareness locally in Bangladesh to think about the future direction of wildlife conservation, biodiversity conservation across the world . This year the theme of this biodiversity day is ‘Our solutions are in nature’.

The rich biodiversity of Bangladesh includes 133 species of mammals, 711 birds, 173 reptiles, 64 amphibians, 653 freshwater fishes, 185 crustaceans, and 323 butterflies in Bangladesh. The IUCN Red List of Bangladesh (2015) assessed 1,619 species of Bangladesh of which 31 species (2%) were Regionally Extinct, 56 species (3.45%) were Critically Endangered, 181 species (11.18%) were endangered, 153 species (9.45%) were Vulnerable, 90 species (6%) were Near Threatened and 802 species (50%) were Least Concern.

IUCN Red List of Bangladesh found 38 mammals, 39 birds, 38 reptiles, 10 amphibians, 64 freshwater fishes, 13 crustaceans, and 188 butterflies are threatened throughout the country. So, to ensure the protection of biodiversity and keep the flow of ecosystem services to humans it is important to protect the biodiversity of the country. To prevent any human hazards, we must aware of mass communities of the country along with harnessing support from policymakers and government bodies.

Sundarban. Photo Bengal Discover

In line with that mass celebration of International biodiversity day 2020 on May 22 in Bangladesh could be one of the forth going steps towards the conservation of the natural diversity of the country. In this line this year Bangladesh forest department and Bangladesh Biodiversity Conservation Federation (BBCF) observed international biodiversity day 2020.

An online seminar organized by BBCF was chaired by Dr S. M. Iqbal, President, BBCF where Md. Amir Hossain Chowdhury, Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) was chief guest and Mr. Mihir Kumar Doe, Conservator of forests; Mullah Rezaul Karim, Conservator of forests; Professor Dr. Bidhan Chandra Das, Professor Dr. M Monirul H. Khan attended the seminar as panel speakers and the seminar was moderated by me from Chinese Academy of sciences.

Panel speakers and others were emphasized on community-based conservation efforts and for future biodiversity conservation in Bangladesh. Bangladesh biodiversity conservation federation has been formed with some enthusiasm nature-loving communities on December 6, 2014. BBCF working with more than 10k volunteers to support the Bangladesh government on biodiversity conservation, mass awareness-raising among communities, provide support to Bangladesh Forest Department on wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and release of orphaned wildlife, seized or recovered wildlife across the country.

They are also working to raise mass awareness among local communities through their promotional activities. Around 118 nature-based organizations are working under the umbrella of BBCF with more than 10000 environmentalists dedicating their times, volunteerism for the great cause the biodiversity across the country. We definitely can hope a rich biodiversity of the country through applying participatory approaches for future biodiversity conservation in Bangladesh.

Co-Author: Delower Hossain, Mollah Rezaul Karim, A. S. M. Jahir Uddin Akhon. All are Wildlife conservator and Researcher in Bangladesh.