Thursday, January 21, 2021 | ePaper

Bird Population Rapid Decline Threats Biodiversity

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Alaul Alam :
Can we defy the nature for our existence on earth? History echoes that we cannot and if we do try, our existence would face a dire threat. In 1958 China experienced one of the worst environmental disasters in history when Mao Zedong, the great leader of China ordered all the sparrows to be killed because they ate too much grain.
People from all walks started mobilizing to eradicate the birds as soon as they saw the birds either on land or fly. Not only that, they used beating drums to scare the birds compelling to fly to be exhausted to die. At the end of the campaign the Chinese witnessed an extinction of sparrows in their land.
What they encountered as the consequence was that insect infestation of crop fields had soared, which made grain production collapsed and locust populations boomed as no sparrows were to eat them; rather they ate everything in their path resulting in a massive famine.  So it is evident that disrupting nature has always a severe catastrophe that may be irreparable in many cases.
It is universal that bird population does an immense contribution to maintaining environmental and ecological balance. Many birds also play a significant role as natural insect controller by eating insects. But it is regretted that over the years we are witnessing a rapid decline in the number of birds.
It is estimated that in the nineties there were around 900 species of birds in our country that have decreased to around 600species at this time. Not only that, some species of birds have migrated their breeding places and those remaining are succumbed to struggling in one way or another.
Truly, with the introduction of wild life preservation act- 2012, open hunting and selling birds have decreased significantly in the country but that does not make us a sense that birds are completely free from all kinds of threats, rather they are being exposed to enduring dire challenges. The causes of disappearing of bird population are many.
Indiscriminate use of fertilizers and insecticides in farming has a catastrophic impact on birds' existence. Due to this, in most cases they have to meet a short life span than they are supposed to be. On top of that, urbanization is destroying their nestling places.
They are exposed to be more vulnerable due to plastic pollution causing millions of deaths every year.  People are indiscriminately cutting down trees and risking the biodiversity along with the life of thousands of birds every year. Also, to meet the necessity of the mankind many ponds, streams and wet lands are filled up every day that result in a decline of overall extinctions of bird population.
Obviously, the devastating evidence is exposed noticeably that may be called the unprecedented vulture tragedy in South Asia. It shows that fifty years back there were seven species of vulture the country witnessed.
But it is sad that out of them five species are no more in our land and the existing two species are rarely seen as they are critically endangered. The sole reason of their extinction may be the indiscriminate use of pain killing drug.
Undoubtedly, the ongoing Covid pandemic has taught us many lessons. It is not possible to fight against any pandemic until nature avails us with its generosity. So killing and hunting birds indicates that we are destroying our nature which ultimately will bounce back with more destruction to our life.  It is imperative to maintain a good relation with nature and rebuild more environmentally responsible world.
It is no denial that migratory birds or guest birds have added another dimension, not only to beautify the nature, contributing immensely in regard to ensuring a healthy environment. Every year in winter these guest birds fly to our land escaping the freezing points from as far as the Himalayas and Siberia. They provide winter entertainment to the nature lovers and the bird watchers.
Bird watching has been a favorite past time for many and especially, in winter people love to visit Haurs, Baurs and many streams to enjoy the different species of birds. Certainly, their presence to our country enhances our sightseeing.
Among the places mentioned the guest birds are seen to flock on, are the Pablakhali Wildlife Sanctuary at the Rangamati district, Tanguar Haor at the Sunamganj district, Durga Sagar in the Barisal district, and the Campus Lake of Jahangirnagar University.
But over some years their presence in these places is not as many as it was in the past. Climate change and many other man-made factors are declining their fly to our land that is really a matter of grave concern.
However, to combat the environmental challenges it is a mandatory to preserve the bird population but it is not possible if they are not ensured safe habitats and for safe habitats Haurs, Baurs, the coastal belt and islands should be announced as the protective zones of the indigenous and guest birds. All kinds of maltreatments against the migratory birds should be addressed and taken into strict consideration.
It is time to save the bird population from the threats of extinction to avert natural disasters.  More importantly, the activities of the conservationists should not only be city- centric, rather they should take many initiatives to make rural people conscious that how much bird population is contributing to our existence on this earth.  

(Alaul Alam teaches at Prime University. Email:

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