While wandering the campus of the Bangladesh Forest Research Institute (BFRI), one might get the feeling of being inside a huge aviary or may even mistake the place for a bird sanctuary.
BFRI is located in Chittagong city's Sholoshahar area. It is the only government forest research organisation, and is built over 28 hectares of land.
It is home to at least 69 bird and 113 tree species, most of which stay on the campus all year round.
Aiming to facilitate uninterrupted breeding of the birds, the wildlife section of BFRI undertook an initiative of affixing around 300 clay pitchers to the trees on the campus.
The already existing charm of an aviary-like environment intensified further following the move – as more bird species keep flocking there for safer breeding and hatching.
Kamrul Islam, a BFRI research officer, said they had tied earthen pots to the trees as part of an ongoing research project inaugurated on May 7.
“The main goal of our project is to help birds breed successfully,” he said, adding, three types of clay pots – open saucers, traditional earthen pots and pitchers with two holes on each side – have been used in the project.
The open saucer-like pots were set for the big birds of prey such as black kite and shikra, and other birds like crow, rufous treepie, black drongo and Indian nightingale which cannot build nests properly or birds which nest out on open branches with twigs or dead leaves.
The traditional clay pots were affixed diagonally for the birds which are cavity nesters like woodpecker, myna, owl, barbet and parrot.
The pitchers were meant for the smaller birds, including tailorbird, purple-rumped sunbird, warbler and jungle babbler, which build suspended nests.
SM Rabiul Alam, senior research officer, wildlife section of BFRI, said: “The pots will protect both the eggs and hatching, helping the birds multiply in number.”
Prof Dr Ghazi Asmat, head of Zoology Department at Chittagong University, said: “We should conserve the ornithological diversity as many bird species in Asia are already under the threat of extinction, mainly due loss of habitat.”
According to the check lists of birds of Bangladesh, numbers of their species stand between 578 and 718.
Of the 566 species assessed in Bangladesh by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2015, as many as 19 species were listed as “regionally extinct,” 10 species as “critically endangered,” 12 species as “endangered,” 17 species as “vulnerable” and 29 species as “near threatened.”
When contacted, Prof Dr Badrul Amin Bhuiya, chairman of the Biodiversity Research Group of Bangladesh, said: “We must conserve the biodiversity of birds since they are a bio-indicator of a healthy ecosystem, which helps maintain the ecological balance by acting as seed dispersers and pollinators.”
As per IUCN, the degradation of bird habitats has been compounded by wanton monoculture of rubber, agar, teak, acacia, in the natural bamboo forest and grasslands particularly in Chittagong region with rampant hunting, poisoning and trapping – posing threat to the bird population across the country.