October 18, 2023
DHAKA – Eminent citizens wrote to the government yesterday demanding the cancellation of building a safari park in the Lathitila protected reserve forest.
Lathitila, which lies 60km from Moulvibazar was declared a reserve forest in 1920. An area encompassing 5,631 acres is protected, and is a part of the Patharia Hilly Reserve Forest.
The forest is home to 209 species of unique fauna and 603 species of flora, including the Northern pig-tailed macaque, hoolock gibbon, and rare otters.
In the name of clearing the forest out of illegal occupiers, the government has taken the initiative of establishing a safari park, pointed out the letter. The park will contain walkways, road networks, parking spots and electricity generators and sound systems will be brought in, according to a proposal that was placed in the planning commission’s project evaluation committee.
The letter noted that ecoparks have a detrimental effect on wildlife and over time become habitats for humans, as opposed to animals.
The objectives of a protected forest and a safari park are conflicting, they pointed out, saying that the legal definition of the former is an area where wildlife can exist without human intervention.
The letter was to addressed to the the planning minister, the environment minister, the chair of the parliamentary standing committee on environment, forests and climate change, the cabinet secretary, the member of the planning commission’s division on agriculture, water and rural establishments, and the chief conservator of forests.
The letter was signed by Sultana Kamal, the founder of Manabadhikar Shongskriti Foundation, Shamsul Huda, executive director of Association for Land Reform and Development, Khushi Kabir, coordinator of Nijera Kori, Dr Iftekharuzzaman, executive director of Transparency International Bangladesh, Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers’ Association, Alamgir Kabir, secretary general of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, and Mokaram Hossain, secretary general of Torupallab.