Biodiversity in the Sundarbans is in a great threat to face a massive loss
By Adnan Tazvir
Cyclone Yaas has caused severe damage to the biodiversity of the Sundarbans . Destroyed wildlife habitat. Many wild animals have been swept away by the overflowing rivers in the interior of the forest.
Meanwhile, 4 dead and 2 live deer have been rescued from different areas. The freshwater ponds and reservoirs of the forest are drowning in the saltwater causing sea surges during Yaas. As a result, parasites and herbs of the forest fauna have been destroyed. It is feared that this will adversely affect the wildlife’s food and behavior.
According to a statistic, the mangrove forest formed near the shores of the Bay of Bengal
and serves as a natural wall for human settlement in the southern and western parts of the country from the onslaught of the Sundarbans storms and tidal surges.
The forest has 450 rivers and canals in 31 percent water area, the main salt-eating plant in the forest is Sundari, there are 334 species of plants and 165 species of algae, and 13 species of orchids.
In the Sundarbans, there are 375 species of wildlife. These include the Royal Bengal Tiger, Chitral and Maya deer, the endangered Irabati, six species of dolphins, saltwater crocodiles, turtles, and King Cobras, as well as 315 species of birds.
There are 210 species of fish, 24 species of shrimps, 14 species of crabs, 43 species of mollusks, and one species of lobster in the rivers of 1,874.1 sq km of the Sundarbans.
Cyclone Sidr, Cyclone Aila, Cyclone Bulbul, Cyclone Viyaru, and Cyclone Amphan, which have hit the Sundarbans in the last few years, have saved the surrounding settlements. And even though the amount of damage to humankind has been reduced, the biodiversity of the Sundarbans is being damaged every year.
Although the cyclone Yaas did not hit the Sundarbans directly this time, the tidal surge in the Bay of Bengal has largely prevented the Sundarbans. However, it has caused a huge loss of forest biodiversity.
Large areas including tourist spots Katka, Kachikhali, Hiron point, Dublar Char , Alorkol, and KARAMJAL and wildlife breeding centers have been submerged in the saltwater. The habitat of the animals is filled with saltwater. Numerous animals including deer, monkeys, and pythons have been washed away in the current.
Hawladar Azad Kabir, in charge of the Wildlife Breeding Center at Karamjal in the eastern part of the Sundarbans, said the deer, crocodile, and turtle breeding center was immediately flooded by the overflowing water of the Pashur River. However, the animals of this center are safe.
He added that due to the tidal wave, some other animals, including hedgehogs and guisaps, have been seen floating in the river and in the vicinity of the breeding center. He said that the forest rangers have been working to rescue the floating animals from different areas of the forest.
According to the forest department, the Sundarbans were drowned 5-6 feet more by the saltwater during the Yaas than the flashing in normal situations. It damaged several forest patrol outposts, 19 jetties at the station, a foot rail, two roundabouts, four staff barracks, including the Watch Towers, and a rest houses. Two roads to the office have been damaged also. Initially, there has been a loss of Tk.6.00 million (Tk.85.00 = US$1.00, now).
Belate Hossain, an officer of the Sundarbans East Division (DFO), said, the impact of the cyclone Yaas and the tidal wave did not cause much damage to the plants. However, the forest department rescued 4 dead and 2 live deer that were swept away by the current.
In addition, there has been a lot of damage to wildlife habitats, tourist spots, and wildlife breeding centers inside the forest. He said a full account of the damage would be available if the situation returned to normal.
Dr. Abdullah Harun Chowdhury, Professor, Department of Environmental and Science Discipline, Khulna University, said that the main source of drinking water for wildlife has been submerged in ponds and reservoirs. As a result, animals will be forced to drink salty water, which will endanger their health, including stomach ailments. This will hurt the conduct of animals.
Bagerhat District Coordinator Nur Alam Sheikh fears that saltwater flooding within the Sundarbans could have a long-term impact on its biodiversity. He further said that the food of the Fauna is the plant national herb.
If plant species are lost in saltwater, there may be a food crisis for wildlife. This food crisis will force the animals to change habitat. As a result, the animals that depend on each other for food will become more dependent on the forest. In addition, the reproduction of tigers, deer, crocodiles, and other animals will be hindered.