Every year, migratory Pankouri (Cormorant) birds take shelter on a Shimul tree on the bank of the Kulik River and for locals and tourists the beautiful birds are a sight to behold, but every year their existence is threatened by poachers, say concerned locals
The Keutan village of Ranisankail upazila is about 70km off the Thakurgaon district town. The river Kulik flows through the heart of this village. And along its banks are a wide range of trees and plants that make up the riverside vegetation. However, above all one Shimul tree stands tall with its branches spread out far offering a safe haven for birds in nature.
Every winter, a flock of Pankouri (Cormorant) birds find sanctuary among the branches and foliage of this Shimul tree. Even with winter season nearing an end this year, the Shimul tree bustles with hundreds of Pankouri and their sweet chirping echoes throughout the area.
The birds heighten nature’s beauty. Locals and tourists visit every day to enjoy the scenic place, for it is a sight to behold. However, not all the visitors are bird lovers, some of them are bird poachers.
According to the locals, due to poaching, birds like Pankouri are slowly becoming a rare sight in the region. Even if poachers are warned, they do not listen, say concerned locals while demanding an end to the Pankouri killing.
Shahabuddin, a resident of the village, said: “The birds stay the nights on the Shimul tree and go out in search of food at the break of dawn. They come back to the tree in the evening. That is when the area looks the most beautiful.”
Rehana Begum, a housewife from a nearby village, said: “There was a time when a lot of birds used to be seen on this tree. Now, the number has largely decreased. If necessary measures are taken to provide sanctuary, the number of birds may increase in the future.”
Lovely Akhter, a school teacher from Baliadangi, who came to visit, said: “Every year when the winter nears an end, I along with my family come here to see the Pankouri and Shimul tree.”
Shamsher Ali, a photographer from Pirganj, said the birds would leave in a few days. “So I am taking as many photos as I can as the birds will not be seen until next winter.”
Yadav Roy, the owner of the Shimul tree, said: “People come here every day from near and far because of the birds. The place looks very beautiful. Immediately after the birds leave in the middle of March every year, the place suddenly becomes sad and empty.”
Professor Abu Bakkar Siddique, principal of Thakurgaon Government Women’s College, also a nature-loving educationist, said: “We need to not only protect the animal sanctuaries but facilitate their expansion as well. Evicting animals from their habitats upset the natural balance, and in turn, humans pay for it by suffering from deadly viruses like the coronavirus. The presence of this Shimul tree and the birds has enhanced the beauty of the area. Therefore, the administration should take the necessary steps so that the Shimul tree can remain safe for years to come.”
In this regard, Thakurgaon Deputy Commissioner Kamruzzaman Selim said that necessary action would be taken against the bird poachers. “Birds help maintain the ecological balance of our environment. So everyone has to be tolerant of birds.”