Tuesday, May 28, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

How wild blue bulls became rare in Bangladesh

Officials term people’s reaction to spotting Nilgai deplorable, call for conservation

Update : 28 Oct 2022, 10:57 AM

A sheer lack of awareness and a tendency to hunt wild animals among locals in the border districts of northwest Bangladesh are to be blamed for the extinction of Nilgai or blue bulls, experts have said, calling for conservation. 

The response of the people immediately after spotting a Nilgai, a grazing animal locally known as Neelghae, is also deplorable, officials say. This animal is “regionally extinct”, according to the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

These antelopes run fast like deer and horses, and are scared of humans. The males are bluish-grey and possess horns, while the females and juveniles are orange to tawny. Both male and female have thin legs and a sloping back.

Since 2018, several blue bulls have been seen wandering the localities along the border in Thakurgaon, Naogaon, Joypurhat and Chapainawabganj districts. In all the cases, people in hundreds chased the animals for hours with extreme enthusiasm; some of them were slaughtered and cooked by the locals. In the other events, on information, the authorities concerned took prompt steps to rescue the animals.

Wildlife Management and Nature Conservation Department (WMNCD) Officer Zohra Milla said that Nilgai crossing the border had often been attacked by locals and died. Such atrocities must end.

On May 12, locals slaughtered a Nilgai that had crossed the border in Thakurgaon's Ranisankail. 

Earlier, another entered through the Baliadangi border in Thakurgaon on February 25 last year, only to be captured and eaten. 

Just four days before this, on February 21, 2021, a blue bull floated down the river from India in Shibganj of Chapainawabganj. 

In 2019, a male Nilgai was recovered from Manda upazila of Naogaon. 

The previous year, another Nilgai was recovered from Ranisankail.

According to wildlife officer Zohra Milla, the horse-like animal was once seen in the bordering forests of Bangladesh. However, after 1940, there is no information that resident Nilgai has been seen. 

The animal became extinct from Bangladesh long ago due to an unfavourable environment, including uncontrolled hunting, lack of habitat and food. The animal is usually gregarious. However, the few wild bulls that have been reported occasionally over the years are mainly coming from India. These animals are currently seen in Pakistan and Nepal apart from India. But this number is alarmingly low.

Latest, locals captured a Nilgai at Shibganj border of Chapainawabganj after chasing the animal for around 5 kilometres in Mirzapur, Daulatbari and Kamalpur areas on Wednesday afternoon. At this time, a crowd gathered, eager to see the blue bull, an adult male. Later, the government officials recovered the animal. 

Mainul Islam, panel chairman of Daipukhuria union parishad under Shibganj upazila, said locals had spotted the animal grazing on a field in the bordering Bilbhatia area and wanted to capture him.

Shibganj Upazila Nirbahi Officer (UNO) Abul Hayat confirmed the matter. He said appropriate measures were taken to protect the stranded animal. 

A team of the WMNCD from Rajshahi is working to rescue the rare animal. Forest Officer Ahmad Niamur Rahman said the local UNO had informed them about the matter. “One of our teams went to Shibganj. They will bring Nilgai to Rajshahi.”

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