The Secret Beauty of Sonadia Island

Cox’s Bazar is a popular destination in Bangladesh, and each year it welcomes thousands of visitors to its shore. It boasts with having the world’s longest stretch of sandy beach and is always colorfully decorated in beach umbrellas and relaxing tourists. Just of its coast lies a small island by the name of Sonadia Island. Even though it has been thought to only be a tranquil haven for fishermen and its small local community, Sonadia Island is rich in wildlife and beauty.

During the winter months fishermen return to the island to fish of its shore, and erect temporary shelter and living quarters for the duration of their stay. But Sonadia Island, in the Southeastern region of Bangladesh, is more than just a good fishing spot, it is home to sea turtles, various bird species and the conservationists who are working tirelessly to save some of these species from extinction.

Since about 2006, the Asian Waterbird Conservation Fund has been doing extensive research and surveys of Sonadia Island in regard to the bird species found on the island. They have been working extremely closely with local communities to fight poaching and illegal capture of the birds by outsiders who come to the island and lay traps for certain birds. Most of the members of the community feel that their island should be left untouched, and have been very interested in conservation education and some have become volunteer workers for the Waterbird Project, to assist in the protection of the various bird species. Surveys have recorded an estimated fifty two bird species on the island, including resident and migratory birds. Shrimp farming on the island poses a threat to many birds and communities have been assisted in trying to conserve the areas that remain safe for nesting. Birds such as sand plovers, little stints, fantail snipes, avocet-sandpipers, grey plovers, black-bellied terns, geese, herring gulls, grey herons, cattle egrets and yellow bitterns can be seen.

Conservation efforts to save the breeding grounds of sea turtles have also been an ongoing project on the island, with hatcheries, monitoring stations and anti-poaching personnel being taken and trained from among the local island residents. Last year, during the 2006-2007 breeding season, three Green Turtle nests and sixty Olive Ridley Turtle nests were protected through the project.

Visitors will be able to find some magnificent sea shells on the beaches along the western side of the island and in the northern waters. Visitors will be able to see the seemingly endless beds filled with windowpane oysters. Sonadia Island is a wildlife paradise, with beauty waiting around every corner, proving that sometimes there is more to a destination than meets the eye.