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Wildlife deaths put ministries on warpath

Published : 07 Feb 2022 10:04 PM | Updated : 08 Feb 2022 02:59 PM

The ministries concerned have become vibrant about irregularities and death of wildlife in the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park in Gazipur and some other zoos in the country.

The safari park has recorded the death of 11 zebras in a month-- January this year. The park authorities said that six of the zebras died from diseases, while the rest died after fights among themselves. However, the ministry concerned later formed a probe body to investigate the cause of death.

A tiger also died in the Gazipur safari park in the month. After losing a dozen of wildlife there, an 11-year old African lioness also died in the safari park in the beginning of February. On the other hand, a 12-year old lioness died at Mirpur National Zoo in the capital in January. The lone tigress of Rangpur Zoo had also died recently.

The alarming death of such a good number of zoo animals has drawn outrage from animal rights activists. They have been concerned about the well-being of zoo animals and the negligence of the zoo and the safari park authorities. 

Allegations of negligence, irregularities and corruption in the care of wildlife are also coming from different other quarters. 

After the death of 11 zebras in Bangabandhu Safari Park, MP from Gazipur-3 constituency Iqbal Hossain Sabuj alleged that the zebras had been ‘killed’ by safari park officials ‘due to internal conflicts’. He also alleged that the food for elephants is being smuggled out of the park. 

Zoology Department head of Jahangirnagar University, Prof Md Monirul Hasan Khan visited the safari park and expressed concern over the death of wildlife at safari park and Mirpur zoo. 

On January 31, Assistant Forest Conservator Tabibur Rahman and Safari Park Veterinary Officer Hatem Sajjad Md Zulkarnain were removed from the park. Zahidul Kabir, the park’s project director, had also been relieved of his post. 

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Against the backdrop, Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim paid a surprise visit to Bangladesh National Zoo in Mirpur on Monday morning (February 7) to inquire about corruption. The minister entered the zoo at about 8.00 am without informing the zoo authorities.

He has been dissatisfied over the poor management at the zoo. During this visit, he observed that food of the wildlife did not arrive on time, while the medicine did not match in the zoo hospital. 

Earlier on Sunday, Environment, Forest and Climate Change Md Shahab Uddin and State Minister Habibunnahar also paid a visit to Bangabandu Safari Park in Gazipur. The Fisheries and Livestock Minister visited various animal cages, veterinary centers, medicine storage facilities in the Mirpur zoo from 8.30 am to 11.30 am and inquired about various issues from the zoo officials. He gave various directions to the officers and employees concerned, said the ministry’s public relation officer Md. Iftekhar Hossain.

Asked about the surprise visit, SM Rezaul Karim said, “I am here to see if there is any mismanagement. No irregularities and mismanagement will be tolerated in the zoo.” 

Additional Secretary of Fisheries and Livestock Ministry SM Ferdous Alam, senior officials, Director General of Department of Livestock Manzoor Mohammad Shahzada, and director of National Zoo Md. Abdul Latif were present at the time. 

SM Rezaul Karim said, “The national zoo is one of the most important entertainment establishments for the people of Bangladesh. We have a master plan to modernize the zoo like the standard of Singapore and Dubai. Consultants have already been appointed whose plans will be available by next March. The zoo will be modernized as per the plans.”

He said that post-mortem and viscera reports for the recently dead animals at zoos are already being examined. Strict action will be taken if any negligence, irresponsibility or incompetence is found.

The minister at a press briefing in the zoo said that measures have been taken to ensure the safety and protection of two newborn tiger cubs at the zoo so that flies or any other animal could not enter the tigers’ cage.

He also said that manpower would be recruited on a temporary basis soon to resolve the manpower crisis.

Md Shahab Uddin during his visit at Bangabandhu Safari Park also warned of stern action against those involved in negligence that caused the death of 11 zebras and a lioness after a report from the probe committee. The ministry formed a five-member committee to investigate the matter.

Meanwhile, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of Police is going to join the environment ministry’s investigation into the death of wildlife in the safari park. 

Secretary of the ministry Mostafa Kamal said that CID has a cutting edge lab. They will collect samples of the dead wildlife and submit the report to the investigation committee. Another three-member committee from the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry will assist the investigation committee in this regard. 

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