Map Courtesy: Banglapedia
Wildlife Distribution of Bangladesh
Wildlife any vertebrate animal other than human being, domesticated animals and fishes, living in its natural habitat. Members of Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves, and Mammalia, their eggs or youngs are included in wildlife. Wild animals can live independently without the help or care of man. Not necessarily a wild animal has to live in forests or jungles; a wall lizard, a sparrow, a pigeon, a myna or a crow are all members of wild fauna.
In an area of about 1,47,570 sq km, Bangladesh has about 34 species of amphibians, 109 species of reptiles, 301 species of resident birds, 176 species of migratory birds, 143 species of ragrant birds, 30 species of birds went extirpated, 120 species of inland mammals, and 3 species of marine mammals.
This is undoubtedly extraordinary situation that such a great diversity still exists in an unusually overpopulated (140 million, with more than 1000 people per sq km) country with a very limited range of habitats.
Bangladesh has lost more than a dozen of wild fauna during the last century. Of them the following could be mentioned: One horned-Rhinoceros, Rhinoceros unicornis; Javan Rhinoceros, R. sondaicus; Asiatic two-horned Rhinoceros, Didermoceros sumatrensis; Gaur, Bos gaurus; Banteng, B. banteng; Wild buffalo, Bubalus bubalis; Nilgai, Boselaphus tragocamelus; Swamp deer, Cervus duvaucelli; Wolf, Canis lupus; Pink-headed duck, Rhodonessa caryophyllacea; Common peafowl, Pavo cristatus; and Marsh crocodile, Crocodylus palustris (Redbook of Threatened Animals: IUCN-Bangladesh, 2000).
Since most wild animals largely depend upon the growth, extent and distribution of forests, decline of these natural habitats severely and adversely affect most inland and resident vertebrate fauna. In the last three decades, the stock of forest trees has declined in Bangladesh at an alarming rate. It is estimated that the forest cover has been reduced more than 50% since the 1970s. Estimates in 1990 revealed that Bangladesh had less than 0.02 ha of forestland per person - one of the lowest forest to population ratios in the world. Presently less that 8% of the country is under forest cover.
In Bangladesh amphibian fauna are represented by about 34 species of members of the order Anura. The orders Gymnophiona and Caudata have no representatives. For sometimes (1988-1993) the country used to export bullfrog legs (Hoplobatrachus tigerinus), but it is now banned.
The lizards, snakes, tortoises and turtles, crocodiles and gharial comprise the reptilian fauna of Bangladesh. A total of 154 species have been recorded. The marsh crocodile is no longer found in the wild in its natural habitats. The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), few in number, occurs in a limited range in the river Padma.
Among the Testudines some including the River Terrapin (Batagur baska), Three-striped Roof Turtle (Kachuga dhongoka), Halud Pahari Kasim (Indotestudo elongata), Pahari Kasim (Asian Giant Tortoise, Manouria emys), and Bostami Kasim (Aspideretes nigricans) are critically endangered. The notable lizard species are the Flying lizard (Draco blanfordi) of the mixed evergreen forests, Monitor lizard (Varanus salvator), Bengal monitor (V. bengalensis), Yellow monitor (V. flavescens), Gecko (Gekko gecko), Garden lizard or Calotes (Calotes rouxii, C. jerdoni, C. versicolor), stripped skink (Mabuya dissimilis), and house lizards (Hemidactylus bowringii, H. brooki, H. flaviviridis, H. frenatus).
Less than half a dozen land snakes are highly poisonous. All sea snakes are known to be poisonous although they seldom bite. Important snakes of the country are Slender worm snake (Typhlops porrectus), Common sand boa (Eryx conica), Rock python (Python molurus), Reticulated python (Python reticulata), Common vine snake (Ahaetulla nasutus), Stripped keelback (Amphiesma stolata), Rat snake (Coluber mucosus, C. nigromarginatus), Common Trinket snake (Elaphe helena), Wolf snake (Lycodon aulicus, L. fasciatus, L. jara), Checkered Keelback (Xenochrophis piscator), Krait (Bungarus caeruleus, B. fasciatus, B. niger, B. lividus), Cobra (Naja kaouthia, N. naja), King cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), Pit vipers (Trimeresurus spp.), and Russell’s viper (Vipera russellii).
Bangladesh has about 650 species of avifauna. The Sarus cane, Grus antigone (about 1.7 m tall) is considered as the largest bird of the country, although it is rarely seen in recent times. A few flowerpeckers and sunbirds, only about 7-8 cm in length, are perhaps the smallest. Degradation of forests and consequent ecological alterations obviously affected the composition of the avifauna. Birds associated with forests of some sort or with a swampy habitat have declined. The Pinheaded duck (Rhodonessa carryophyllacea), the Nuka or Comb duck (Sarkidiornis melanotos), the Common peafowl, the Burmese peafowl (P. muticus), Sarus crane, and the Bengal Florican (Eupodotis bengalensis) which were once more or less widely distributed, have now virtually disappeared from Bangladesh.
Most birds that migrate to Bangladesh come from the mountainous northern parts of the subcontinent. Some species come from different parts of Europe and from Siberia. There are certain species that stay in Bangladesh for a short period enroute to their destinations further South or Southeast. There are many species which stay here during autumn or spring.
The country has about 120 species of mammals. They range in size from tiny shrews and pipistrelle bats, which weigh only a few grams and measure a few centimetres, to elephants that stand over 3 metres at shoulder and can weigh over 4 metric tons. The largest mammal, the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) measuring about 30 metres in length and weighing up to 150 metric tons, often enters in Bangladesh waters.
Among the inland mammals, the order Chiroptera (bats) is the largest group. Some notable Chiropterans are Short-nosed fruit bat, False vampire, Indian pigmy pipistrelle, Asiatic lesser yellow bat, and Painted bat. Among the primates mention may be made about the Slow loris, Assamese macaque, Rhesus macaque, Hanuman langur, Capped monkey, and Hoolock gibbon. Order Carnivora is represented by 27 species. The notable ones are Jackal, Indian wild dog, Jungle cat, Asiatic golden cat, Clouded leopard, Royal Bengal tiger, Marbled cat, Fishing cat, Common Mongoose, Oriental small-clawed otter, Common otter, Sun bear, Himalayan black bear, and several species of civets. The Asian elephant is now distributed only in the forests of Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar areas.
Artiodactyla is represented by one species of wild boar (Sus scrofa), three species of deer (Spotted deer/Sambar, Barking deer, and Indian Muntjac), and one species of serow. The three species of pangolin (order Pholidota) are-Scaly anteater (Manis crassicaudata), Malayan pangolin (M. javanica), and Chinese pangolin (M. pentadactyla). These are rarely seen and occur in the forests of Sylhet, Chittagong, Chittagong Hill Tracts, Comilla, and Mymensingh.
At least 21 species of Rodentia occur in Bangladesh. Among these some members of Muridae are widely distributed. The notable species are - House rat (Rattus rattus), Bram rat (R. norvegicus), house mouse (Mus musculus), and Bandicoot rat (Bandicota indica). The squirrels are represented by eight species; of these, the Pallas’s squirrel, Orange-bellied Himalayan squirrel, Common giant flying squirrel, and Malayan giant squirrel are notable. Only two species of porcupines occur in Bangladesh. These are - Asiatic brush-tailed porcupine (Atherurus macrourus) and Indian porcupine (Hystrix indica). The Hispis hare or Assam rabbit and Rufous-tail hare represent the order Lagomorpha. [SM Humayun Kabir]