NAOGAON, Feb 22 (UNB): Over the past decade, the hamlet of Kunjaban in Naogaon's Mahadebpur upazila has emerged as a popular winter holiday destination for bird watchers in Bangladesh.
Barely a kilometre away from Sadar upazila, this hotspot of migratory birds is on the banks of the Atrai river. Thanks to a good breeding habitat and availability of plenty of food, several species of birds from Siberia, China and the Himalayan region arrive here in large numbers every winter. Their numbers are, in fact, increasing with each passing year, say birders.
Bird lovers and local residents -- who also enjoy the presence of these winged visitors every winter -- say the village has full potential to be developed as a global tourist spot, but claim that noise pollution poses a serious threat to these avians.
Even though some species may have adapted to noise pollution, many birds are affected by it, they say, urging the authorities concerned to take immediate steps to curb the menace.
"I have come here for the first time to see the migratory birds. The whole area is abuzz with the chirping of the winged visitors," Khorshed Alam Raju, a resident of Bangabaria in Sadar upazila, told the news agency. "But I think it's high time that the government took effective measures to control noise pollution in the area."
In fact, the migratory birds arrive with the onset of winter every year and stay here for 4-5 months, taking advantage of the shallow waters of the Atrai river. During the daytime, they throng the river and spend the night in the bills of Mohammadpur, Ramchandrapur and Madhuban.
Jakia Jesmine, a housewife from Sahebpara in Rajshahi district, said, "I have never seen such a large gathering of migratory birds at one place."
Local non-government organisations say they have started campaigns in the village and its nearby areas to make people aware about the importance of the winged guests and also urge them to refrain from making loud noises.
Munsur Sarkar, the director of Diverse Bird Production Research Council, said, "We have also erected bamboo fences in the river for ensuring the safety of these birds. Several species, including whistling ducks, lesser whistling ducks and cormorants known as Pancouri are seen here every winter."
"Besides, we are trying our best to convince people not to use traditional nets for catching fish in the river as it could hamper the movement of the visiting avians," he added.
AKM Zaman, the upazila fisheries officer, said, "The authorities concerned have taken steps to ensure free movement of the winter visitors."
Mizanur Rahman, Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO), added, "The local administration has also imposed a ban on hunting of birds and legal action will be taken against anyone found violating the order."
Bangladesh has a number of wetlands, though only a few are designated as Ramsar sites (wetlands of international importance). Every winter, birds from Siberia, Mongolia and the Tibetan plateau come to Bangladesh to enjoy the country's temperate climate and to feed on fish available in plenty in the shallow rivers and canals.