Twenty-one new wildlife mammal species have been found in Bangladesh in the last 15 years, according to a survey.
The new species spotted in the country are: common pipistrelle bat, Indian round leaf bat, wrinkle-lipped free-tailed bat, least leaf-nosed bat, dawn bat, lesser false vampire bat, cook’s mouse, Edward’s rat, Himalayan rat, white-toothed rat, red climbing mouse, yellow-throated marten, particoloured flying squirrel, Himalayan striped squirrel, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, pan-tropical spotted dolphin, rough-toothed dolphin, false-killer whale, sperm whale and Bryde’s whale.
However, the study has also found three new wildlife mammals that no longer exist in Bangladesh: grey wolf, striped hyena and sloth bear.
Among them, sloth bear has not been spotted in the country since the 70s, while grey wolf and striped hyena have not been seen in the past 100 years.
“Grey wolf and striped hyena were not included in our 'Red List' – the list of species extinct in Bangladesh – when we last updated it in 2000. But now the list has been updated,” said Mostafa Firoz, professor at the zoology department of Jahangirnagar University who led the study.
The survey, “Updating Species Red List of Bangladesh,” was undertaken by the government's Forest Department and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) late last year. The survey report will be published at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka today.
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Bengal tiger, Asiatic lion and hoolock gibbon are three of the species that are listed as Critically Endangered. Photos: Syed Zakir Hossain
According to the report, there are a total of 138 different species of wildlife mammals in Bangladesh, 11 of which are now recorded as extinct.
Among the existing mammals, 17 species are categorised as Critically Endangered, 12 are Endangered and 9 are Vulnerable.
The Red List estimates the risk of extinction of a certain species in order to help to set conservation plans and priority.
Habitat loss by changing pattern of climate and forest ecosystem as well as human intervention in the forests are considered as some of the primary reasons for the extinction of these species from the country.
In 2000, the IUCN published the Red List of Fauna Species in Bangladesh, covering the status of 895 wildlife species under five categories – mammals, birds, amphibians, fish and reptiles.
The 2000 list labelled several species, including Gangetic gharial, saltwater crocodile, hoolock gibbon, Phayre’s leaf monkey, ritha fish, pangas fish and baghair fish, as “critically endangered” due to the loss of their habitat and food scarcity.
The new Red List initiative has included two more categories – butterfly and crustacean (snails, crabs and shrimps), and the number of species has been increased to around 1,700.
Critically endangered species
The species listed as Critically Endangered in Bangladesh are: Bengal tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, Asian elephant, hoolock gibbon, long-tailed macaque, Phayre’s leaf monkey, Asiatic black bear, Malayan sun bear, Indian pangolin, Chinese pangolin, Eurasian otter, smooth-coated otter, gaur, sambar, hog deer and Himalayan striped squirrel.
Among the 28 species of carnivores found in the country, seven are recorded as Critically Endangered.
The species listed as Endangered in Bangladesh are: mainland serow, pig-tailed macaque, common langur, Assamese macaque, capped langur, barking deer, Asiatic wild dog, fishing cat, Indian hare, Bengal slow loris, Oriental small-clawed otter, particoloured flying squirrel.
The species listed as Vulnerable in Bangladesh are: Ganges river dolphin, rhesus macaque, Bengal fox, Asian golden cat, hog badger, yellow-throated marten, binturong, masked palm civet and Malayan giant squirrel.