Govt plans to create corridors forelephants, tigers in CHT
The environment, forest and climate change ministry has planned to create a sanctuary for elephants and tigers called 'Bangabandhu Conservation Corridor' in Chattogram Hill Tracts.
The forest department is carrying out a feasibility study on the project which includes making three corridors in the border areas for the Asian elephants.
The 52km long first corridor will connect the forest in Bandarban to forest in Cox's Bazar and the second one, 65km in length, will stretch from Kaptai to Baghaichhari through Bilaichhari-Jurachhari-Barkal. The third one will be 70km long stretching from Pablakhali Wildlife Sanctuary to Kasalong Reserve Forest.
The ministry recently presented a report on the proposed project in a meeting of the parliamentary standing committee on environment, forest and climate change ministry.
The report emphasised the discussion with concerned people in Chattogram Hill Tracts before the corridors are created to connect the reserved forests.
"It is better if the corridor can be created within the next one year," said Saber Hossain Chowdhury, chairman of the parliamentary panel. "The work on the conservation corridor is now in its early stage. We'll take the next step following the feasibility study," Forest Conservationist Mihir Kumar Dey told bdnews24.com.
Elephants are found in four forest areas in Bangladesh-Mymensingh, Moulvibazar, Kasalong in the north Hill Tracts and Sangu in Bandarban, according to the report.
Those elephants seen in Mymensingh come from Meghalaya in India and those in Moulvibazar and Ksalong come from Tripura and Mizoram. The elephants found in Sangu come from Myanmar.
"If implemented, the proposed corridor will be a significant step to conserve the elephants in the country. Tigers and elephants are the 'flagship' animals in our flora and fauna," former Forest Conservationist Ishtiak Uddin Ahmed told bdnews24.com.
There are around 296 elephants in Bangladesh, including residents and non-residents, he said.
The elephants in Ukhiya-Ghundhum corridor have stopped moving due to the Rohingya refugee camp in Ukhiya, the report mentioned.
Tigers were also found in the proposed conserved forests, said the report. There is possibility of finding tigers in the conserved forests of Kasalong and Sangu, it said. It is not clear if the tigers belong to Bangladesh or come from India or Myanmar.
"We received some information about tigers in two areas. Some of the people claimed there are tigers as they saw the pugmarks. It is not confirmed if the tigers belong to us or come from outside. We need to verify it," said Dey. "It is better to have some conserved forests if there are tigers. Tigers need their own territory. They need to be conserved no matter if the tigers belong to us or other countries," said Ahmed. There are 114 Royal Bengal Tigers in Sundarban, according to the forest department's latest survey.