Bangladesh’s Ban on Resource Hunting in Sundarbans Leaves Communities Facing Hardship

Environmental News from Bangladesh: 

  • The Sundarbans in the Bay of Bengal, the world’s largest stretch of mangroves, is a rich ecosystem of hundreds of species of flora and fauna. It’s also rich with natural resources for the communities living nearby but is considered an ecosystem under threat.
  • In a first-of-its-kind conservation effort, the Bangladesh government is implementing a complete ban on entry into the forest for three months, from July to August, which it says is the breeding season for the local wildlife.
  • The communities surrounding the mangroves, who depend on the forests for food and resources, say this ban will affect their livelihoods and push them into hardship.
  • Conservationists have also labeled the ban “inappropriate,” expressing concern about its timing — given that not all species here share the same breeding season — and its target, saying that tourists, and not local communities, are responsible for much of the pollution and disruption to the ecosystem.

Bangladesh is set to implement a total ban on entry into the Sundarbans mangrove forest for three months starting June. This will apply not only to tourists but also to the communities that live around the forest.

The ban, which the Bangladeshi government plans to enforce for three months — June, July, and August — every year, is meant to ensure an undisturbed environment for wildlife during the breeding season, according to the government.

The Sundarbans, the world’s largest contiguous mangrove forest, form a unique habitat for more than 450 wildlife species, including Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris), Ganges river dolphins (Platanista gangetica), Indian pythons (Python molurus), saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), various monkey species, dozens of fish, and hundreds of birds. Three wildlife sanctuaries in Bangladesh — Sundarbans East, Sundarbans West and Sundarbans South — are enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. More than 330 species of trees, shrubs, and epiphytes make up the landscape of these rich mangrove forests.

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Source: Mongabay

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