Habitat loss is not only posing a big threat to Asian elephants but also to human security, speakers said yesterday at a workshop titled “Conservation of Asian elephants in Bangladesh” organized by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) in collaboration with the Forest Department, Ministry of Environment and Forest.
According to experts, increases in human population, expansion due to unplanned agriculture and settlement and various livelihood interventions are continuously destroying forests as well as the core habitat and corridors of elephants. This subsquently has resulted in human elephant conflicts in the south-eastern and north-eastern parts of the country. They urged the government to take immediate steps to conserve elephant habitats and to protect Asian elephants.
The workshop also launched, “The Asian Elephants and Associated Human-Elephant Conflict in South-Eastern Bangladesh.” Published by IUCN Bangladesh, the principal aim of this book is to provide selected information on status, biology, ecology and behaviour of Asian elephants and to prepare a series of GIS based maps on elephants routes, corridors, human elephant conflict areas, crop damage areas and elephant sighting areas. In total the book contains 62 maps of nine sites.
To improve the understanding of human-elephant conflict (HEC) issues, IUCN Bangladesh with financial assistance from the US Fish and Wildlife Service has been implementing a project, “Action Research for the conservation of Asian elephants in Bangladesh” since 2001. The goal of the project is to protect Asian elephants in Bangladesh in their natural habitat and to contribute towards the overall aim of conserving biological diversity and ecological integrity of the country, the book is a key part of this project.
Speaking as the chief guest, Dr. Mohammad Nasiruddin, Joint Secretary (Development), Ministry of Environment and Forests said, “These detailed maps will improve the knowledge of local people as well as policy makers and will allow them to learn many unknown facts regarding the behaviour of elephants. This will allow the local community to gain at greater understanding of suitable areas to build their setlements and to expand their agricultural work.
Dr M Monirul H Khan, Associate Professor, Jahangir Nagar University presented the keynote paper. Ishtiaq Uddin Ahmad, CCF, Bangladesh Forest Department, Mr. Yunus Ali, DCCF, Bangladesh Forest Department and Professor Niaz Ahmed Khan, PhD. Country Representative, IUCN Bangladesh also addressed the workshop.