Death of animals at Bangabandhu safari park: The mystery continues

Probe committee seeks 10 more days

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A committee formed to investigate the death of animals at the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park in Gazipur has failed to submit its report within the stipulated time and has applied for a time extension at the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

The body has sought 10 more days to prepare the report.

In the meantime, at least four possible reasons behind the death of the animals have surfaced in various media reports. 

The former project director at the park, Jahidul Kabir, on January 25 told the media that four of the zebras died while fighting among themselves and five died of bacterial infections.

The second possible reason surfaced when the ruling party lawmaker from Gazipur 3, Mohammad Iqbal Hossain, claimed that the zebras died due to negligence by park staffers and internal strife. 

Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim on Saturday claimed that the zebras, tigers and lions at the park died due to bacterial infection. On Tuesday, lab tests found traces of lead in the grass that the zebras graze on. 

Ministry sources, on the other hand, suspect that land grabbers might have had a hand in the deaths of the animal as the park is not properly fenced. They said that the value of land in Gazipur has gone high in recent times and the park is spread across 3,810 acres of land in the district. 

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Shahab Uddin on Sunday said that actions will be taken against those involved in negligence of duty over the deaths of animals at the safari park.

10 more days

To find out the reasons behind the death of animals, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on January 26 formed a probe committee and instructed it to submit a report to the ministry within 10 working days.

Sanjay Kumar Bhowmik, an additional secretary of the ministry and the convener of the probe committee, however, claimed that they did not cross the deadline yet.

He said: “The investigation is going on and several test reports from labs are yet to arrive.” 

Therefore, the committee has sought 10 more working days to submit the report, he added.

“All the members of the committee visited the park on Wednesday and collected the necessary evidence and information,” he said.


Four days after Jahidul Kabir’s claim regarding the death of the zebras, he and two other officials were removed from their duties for negligence in duty. 

The others losing their positions are officer-in-charge of the park and assistant conservator of forests Md Tabibur Rahman and veterinary officer Dr Hatem Sazzad Md Zulkernine.

Dr Mohammad Monirul Hasan Khan, professor of Zoology at Jahangirnagar University and a member of the investigation committee, declined to comment on the deaths of the animals before getting the lab reports at hand.

However, he said the claims of zebras fighting among themselves and dying was false.

On the claim that the deaths were caused by bacterial infection, another member of the probe body, Bangladesh Agriculture University Pathology Department Prof Dr Md Abu Hadi Noor Ali Khan said: “The surrounding area [around the park] is heavily industrialized. Moreover, fumes from battery-run auto-rickshaws and fuel create a chemical reaction along with the lead in the air.”

He said the zebras had caught pneumonia in a manner similar to humans and their immunity system was further compromised by inbreeding.

Meanwhile, experts warn that other animals at the park will be at great risk if the poor air quality in the area turns out to be the reason behind the deaths of the animals.

Lab report

The samples of the dead zebras are being analyzed by various agencies including IEDCR, Bangladesh Agricultural University, Mymensingh and Crime Investigative Department (CID).

Some lab reports have also been sent to a sourcing firm in South Africa.

Eleven zebras died at the safari park between January 4 to February 3 this year. The tally also adds a tiger and a lioness.

The zebras were born in the core zone of the park. However, their parents were sourced from South Africa. According to sources, there are currently a total of 22 zebras alive at the park.

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