• Thursday, Aug 18, 2022
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Deer sanctuary in Nijhum Dwip threatened!

  • Published at 07:44 pm August 28th, 2020
File photo of spotted deer at the Sundarbans Dhaka Tribune

Without any embankments protecting the small island, which sits at the intersection of the Meghna River and the Bay of Bengal, its wildlife population is extremely vulnerable to high tides from the Bay during monsoon

Nijhum Dwip in Noakhali's Hatiya upazila, best known for its national park that is a sanctuary for spotted deer, has become inundated by recent tidal surges putting its deer population at risk.

The small island, among a smattering of other islands south of Bangladesh, sits at the intersection of the Meghna River and the Bay of Bengal. 

Without any embankments protecting the island, its wildlife population is extremely vulnerable to high tides from the Bay during monsoon.

Home to around 3,000 deer, the island has gone under 4-5ft of floodwater, forcing the animals to take shelter on higher grounds in many localities.

Many deer are being chased away and killed by dogs and foxes as they take shelter in the localities. Besides, many deer have been washed away by the strong current in the rivers.

"An earthen fortress was built in 1982 inside the forest so that the deer could take refuge during natural disasters. But the fortress was levelled to the ground due to continuous tidal water in the last few years," said Belal Uddin, president of a committee formed to protect the Nijhum Dwip National Park.

The Forest Department had also built some ponds. The deer could take refuge on the bank of the ponds during high tides. But, the number of ponds are relatively less than the number of deer, he said. Besides, dogs or foxes attack the deer when they come into localities for shelter, Belal Uddin added.

Rafiqul Alom, executive director of Dwip Unnayan Sangstha, a non-governmental organization, working to make the Island tourist-friendly, said: “We along with some other NGOs surveyed the deer of Nijhum Dwip back in 2012. We suggested taking four steps to save the deer of Nijhum Dwip. 

The recommendations were: building multiple high fortresses, culling dogs, ensuring safe water for deer, and encasing the forest with high-security wires." 

Nijhum Dwip Forest Guard Beser Uddin said: "The deer are taking shelter on roads at Bandartila and Namar Bazar areas as the island is flooded due to tidal surge and incessant rainfall." 

This island comprising around 40, 390 acres of land was declared as a National Park in 2001 and is now one of the attractive tourist spots for its rich flora and fauna diversity. 

The natural beauty has been enhanced by deer, monkeys, wild boars, wild buffaloes, fishing cats, snakes, turtles, tortoises, Bengal monitor, black lizard, yellow monitor, oriental small-clawed otters, clawless otters and a huge number of migratory winter birds.

Meanwhile, thousands of inhabitants of Nijhum Dwip have been facing trouble as the high tide has left the remote island inundated for a week. The high tide flooded houses, roads and small streets, washed away fish hatcheries and drowned domestic animals. 

Parts of the island have experienced an acute shortage of safe drinking water and food. In many households, people are unable to light their stoves to cook as those are already submerged.

Speaking on the issue, Hatia Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Rezaul Karim, said: "At least 20 villages under 11 unions of the upazila have been flooded by the tidal surge and incessant rainfall. Authorities are working to mitigate the sufferings of the locals."