Bangladesh Updates Conservation Red List

The IUCN Bangladesh Country Office, together with the Bangladesh Forest Department and funded by the World Bank, is currently updating the Species Red List of Bangladesh to determine the conservation status of 1,700 species from seven animal groups – mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, freshwater fish, crustaceans and butterflies – resident in the country. Founded in 1964, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is dedicated to identifying flora and fauna species in danger of extinction, identifying the threats they face and finding practical solutions to these problems. The project in Bangladesh will continue through 2014/2015 with more than 300 local and international experts, scientists, officials, and other interested parties participating.

Researchers working on this project recently discovered two species of birds and one butterfly specie which have not previously been seen in Bangladesh. The slender-billed gull was seen for the first time in the Teknaf region during last winter, and the red phalarope was spotted near the Rajbari district at the Padma River in April. Neither of these bird species is considered to be threatened from a conservation viewpoint, but it is unusual to see them in Bangladesh.

The jungle glory butterfly was seen in the Tanchi area of the Bandarban hill district and has reportedly not been seen in Bangladesh for more than 130 years. It was documented in the book Butterflies of India, Burma and Ceylon published by the British Museum in 1882.

Another significant discovery by researchers from the zoology department of Jahangirnagar University was a colony of more than 1,000 flying fox bats in the Dinajpur district of Bangladesh. Flying fox bats feed on nectar, pollen and fruit. Researchers have concluded that the bats have moved into the area due to deforestation in more rural areas.

When the IUCN published its Red List of Fauna species in Bangladesh in 2000, it detailed the status of 895 species in five categories – birds, mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles – among which were the hoolock gibbon, Gangetic ghorial, saltwater crocodile, and the Phayre’s langur. Conservationists are no doubt interested to see what the status of these, and other animals that featured on the original list, is today.