Experts say the animals are dying because of inadequate food, mismanagement and poorly made cages and pens
The Sylhet Wildlife Conservation Centre was inaugurated in November 2018 with 58 animals. However, as many as 25 of them have died since then.
Though deer live on the plains, the Sylhet Wildlife Conservation Centre keeps them in sheds on a hill, which is covered with spiny trees. A deer died last November when it slipped and fell on the slope of the hill.
The Wildlife Conservation Centre of Tilagarh Eco Park in Sylhet city is losing animals frequently in similar accidents. Wildlife experts say the animals are dying because of inadequate food, mismanagement and poorly made cages and pens.
In fact, the unplanned arrangements and mismanagement are apparent as soon as one enters the centre. A busy road runs right through it with traffic around the clock, causing a disturbance for the animals.
The cages and pens are rickety, unstable and badly made. In fact, two deer escaped recently, but one of them was caught. This incident reveals how inadequate and poorly made the cages are.
Dr Saiful Islam, a veterinarian at the Centre, said zoos usually keep deer on plain land, but here they have been kept on a hilly and rugged area.
"Moreover, the bird-sheds here do not get enough sunlight. The birds often fall ill because of this, and some have died already," he added.
Dr Saiful said the wildlife centre was developed without consulting a wildlife expert. He also cited a number of examples of mismanagement and improper arrangements that are contributing to the deaths of the animals.
The animals that died include a deer, a python, three peacocks, 15 birds of different species, foreign fish and a jungle rabbit. This has infuriated local animal rights activists.
There were 58 animals at the Centre when it was launched in November 28, and 13 more were added to it later. Now it is home to 46 animals after taking into account the ones who died.
Masud Hawlader, the curator of the Centre, believes the road through the forest must be blocked for the sake of the animals. "The busy route pollutes the habitat and disturbs the animals while they sleep," he added.
Some officials of the Centre, wishing to remain anonymous, said that they have not been given any specialised training on how to look after the animals.
The management of the Sylhet Wildlife Conservation Centre has been leased out to a company named Tanha Enterprise. Anwar Hosen, a director of the company, also blames the unplanned construction for the harm being done to the animals.
Anwar said the government should block the road that runs through the forested area of the Centre. He said they could not even implement an entry restriction after 11:00pm because local people simply don't comply with it.
Professor Dr Md Abdul Baset, a teacher of the Livestock Production and Management Department of Sylhet Agricultural University, said, "The Centre was not planned properly and the sheds are not animal-friendly. Moreover, round the clock traffic has appeared as the number one problem now."
SM Sajjad Hosen, Sylhet Divisional Forest Officer, said, "While it is not possible to completely block vehicles from using the road through the forest of the Centre, we are trying for a partial restriction. We are also trying to get qualified people to fill permanent posts like curator and veterinarian."