many indigenous fish species. Discharge of pollutants into water bodies (rivers, canals, ponds,etc.) from industries, and over-fishing (especiallyof juvenile and brood fishes) are highly responsiblefor the destruction of fish species throughout thecountry. Short term leasing of
toindividuals for commercial exploitation has led tomany species becoming locally extinct. This can beattributed to the practice of almost total intake of fish stocks by dewatering the water bodies whileharvesting fish. Moreover, there has been areduction of sanctuaries for natural replenishmentof fish species throughout the country, which isanother factor leading to shrinkage and destructionof aquatic habitats.
In Bangladesh, 22 species of Amphibians have beenrecorded (Table 3.4.1). Some of these areeconomically important and thus are being exploitedcommercially. Until the early
eighties many traders inthe country were exporting frog legs in largequantities. Most of the frogs were collected from thewild, and exported as a frozen food item. This practicealso causes insect and predator populations to beaffected.
The depletion of reptilian fauna in the country isnoteworthy. Reptiles are environment friendly as theyeat many agricultural pests, and help control theirnumbers. However, turtles, tortoises, snakes, lizards,and crocodiles are exploited economically because of a tradition of making useful commodities from theirbody parts, e.g., bones, skins, etc. Therefore, most of them are in high demand by traders in these items, andare over-exploited.
The conversion of wetlands into agricultural lands,large-scale deforestation, and human overpopulationare considered to be the major factors causing manyspecies of birds in Bangladesh to be threatened. Thereis an illegal trade in birds that is prevalent.
Mammals and Other Wildlife
The mammalian fauna of Bangladesh is the mosthighly affected from their habitat destruction andover exploitation. Very exceptionally people inBangladesh use some wildlife species. Most of them are used either as food (e.g. birds, deers, wildboars, etc.), or as commodity (e.g. medicine,handicrafts, etc.), or as pet (e.g. turtles, lizards,snakes, parakeets and hill Mayna, etc.). However,the country is yet to formulate appropriate policiesand guidelines to manage the utilization of thesebiological resources in asustainable manner. Mostof them are exploited in an unsustainable way, andhence, a number of wildlife species have becomethreatened.
Natural forests throughout the country are increasinglybeing depleted. Various types of development activity,such as dikes, highway, road construction, and otherinfrastructure development have further intensifieddeforestation, and destruction of natural forests inBangladesh. Briefly, the other causes of deforestationare listed below. The degradation of forestland isdescribed in detail in the Land Degradation section of this report.
Shifting cultivation (
), and inappropriateutilization of forest resources.
Overgrazing, illegal felling, and fuel woodcollection.
Uncontrolled and wasteful commercialexploitation of forest resources.
Monoculture and commercial plantation.
High population pressure on forestlands.
Conversion of forests and wetlands foragricultural use.
Poverty and unemployment in the rural areas.
Encroachment into forestland.
3.4.3 STATE AND IMPACTS
Unfortunately, the degradation and loss of naturalresources in Bangladesh started a long time ago, andnow they are all equally depleted, includingbiodiversity. Various land use and water policies havehad significant impacts on natural ecosystems andhave changed their character and ability to supportbiological resources.The list of extinct animals of Bangladesh has beenprepared based on earlier published informationregarding fauna (Pocock, 1939; Mountfort, 1969;Prater, 1971; Husain, 1974; Hendrichs, 1975; Green,1978; Khan, 1982a, 1985). According to further fieldstudies and the compiled Red List of IUCN (2000), 64species of vertebrates have been recorded as criticallyendangered, 86 as endangered, and 51 as vulnerablespecies. The Bangladesh National Herbarium ispreparing a similar type of list for flora.