The government pledges to take stern action against those involved in the recent deaths of a good number of animals in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Safari Park in Gazipur and some other zoos in the country.
The death of 11 zebras in a safari park in a month-- January this year, and the death of several other wildlife at safari parks, national zoo and some other zoos have drawn outrage among animal rights activists and environmentalists. They blamed the zoo and the safari park authorities for negligence. Even Local MP Iqbal Hossain Sabuj had said that 11 zebras had been ‘killed’ by safari park officials.
Against this backdrop, the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry and the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry have become active and taken some initiatives in this regard. Probe bodies were formed to investigate the deaths of the wildlife, while some initial actions were also taken.
In the latest move, the Fisheries and Livestock Ministry has appointed three consultants to probe into the recent deaths of several animals at Gazipur safari park. The three consultants are the director of Central Veterinary Hospital Shafiul Ahad Sarker, an official of Central Disease Investigation Laboratory (CDIL) Sukesh Chandra Vaidya, and another official of Bangladesh National Zoo Nazmul Huda.
Dr Amitabh Chakrabarti, a deputy secretary of the ministry, confirmed the matter. “The three consultants are not members of any probe body. They will assist the probe body formed over the death of zoo animals,” he said.
The Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry formed a five-member committee over the incident. Head of the probe body Sanjay Kumar Bhowmik, an additional secretary of the ministry, said that the consultants have already started helping the panel with its investigation.
Meanwhile, another official of the safari park was transferred in connection with the death of animals.
The park’s wildlife supervisor Sarwar Hossain Khan has been relieved from his duty and transferred to Rajshahi, while Rajshahi’s wildlife ranger Md Helim Rayhan has been appointed in the place, said senior information officer of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry Dipankar Bar.
The newly-appointed in-charge of the safari park Rafiqul Islam said that the government has taken the issue of the deaths of zoo animals seriously and would take stern action after getting the probe report.
Alongside the new in-charge, the authorities concerned have appointed seven new staff members at the safari park.
On January 31, Assistant Forest Conservator Tabibur Rahman and Safari Park Veterinary Officer Hatem Sajjad Md Zulkarnain were removed from their duties in the park. Zahidul Kabir, the park’s project director, had also been relieved of his post.
Rafiqul Islam said that the officials were removed from their posts to ensure an impartial investigation into the deaths of the animals.
Between January 2 and February 3, at least 11 zebras, a tiger, and a lioness died in the safari park. On the other hand, a 12-year old lioness died at Bangladesh National Zoo in the capital in January. The lone tigress of Rangpur Zoo also died recently.
Meanwhile, a team from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) has also visited the safari park in Gazipur to probe the deaths of several animals, including zebras. Additional Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Imam Hossain of CID said samples were collected from the park for tests at the CID laboratory. The causes of the deaths of the animals will be known after the tests.
Earlier, Fisheries and Livestock Minister SM Rezaul Karim paid a surprise visit to the national zoo in Mirpur on February 7 to inquire about corruption. He was dissatisfied with the poor management at the zoo. He warned of taking stern action in this regard.
Environment, Forest and Climate Change Md Shahab Uddin and State Minister Habibunnahar also paid a visit to Bangabandhu Safari Park in Gazipur on February 6. During his visit, Md Shahab Uddin warned of taking stern action against those involved in negligence that caused the deaths of 11 zebras and a lioness after getting the report from the probe committee.