Tengragiri Wildlife Sanctuary is an eco-park built on a part of the second largest mangrove forest in Bangladesh called Phatrar Ban reserved for wildlife in 2010
Life becomes mechanical when we get separated from nature. The urban life surrounded by concrete silhouettes and noises of crowds makes us think sometimes to flee to a remote place. Now, if that place is a mingle of green tall trees, cute animals and a sea beach, one will want to lose oneself there. Here, we will take you to such a world for a while. It is Tengragiri Wildlife Sanctuary along the Sonakata beach in Barguna.
To enter the world of nature, you have to cross a 50-metre wooden pier over a canal called Sakhina. This canal separates Tengragiri reserve forest from Sonakata union in Taltali upazila of the coastal district. Some docked fishing boats and palm trees along the human habitat in Sonakata are the only differentiators between the habitats of human beings and the wildlife. The entrance of the sanctuary starts with a narrow path of red brick. The four kilometres long trail ends at the beach.
The Department of Forests declared 4048.58 hectares of the second largest mangrove forest in Bangladesh called Phatrar Ban reserved for wild life in 2010. The forest department built an eco-park on a part of the sanctuary called Sakina Bit for tourists.
There are four enclosures built beside the brick alley one after another, where visitors can watch deer, wild boars, fishing cats, and crocodiles.
After a few steps into the eco-park, you will get the first enclosure designated for deer. If you are fortunate, you will not have to wait long beside the boundary wall of the enclosure made of concrete and iron grills to meet a herd of deer. You will find them foraging along the wall.
It is not that you will always get the privilege of watching the animals in the enclosures. Because, they are kept within the enclosures for ensuring their safe breeding and growing. Once it is done, they are released in the open. That is why our correspondent did not find any wild boar and fishing cat in their enclosures. The forest officials released the wild boars and fishing cats in the wild last year.
In the last enclosure, there is a pond with two adult estuarine crocodiles–Tengra and Sakhina--along with their three or four hatchlings. There are also eggs laid by Sakhina in June this year. She has covered them with dried leaves and broken branches of trees in a corner, keeping the number of the eggs a mystery.
Though the enclosures end here, you have to walk few more kilometres to explore the mystery of the forest and enjoy the beauty of the beach. However, the path is not so smooth. In places, it is damaged and slippery. You will find some concrete bridges over creeks, which are also broken. But, thanks to the forest department for building three toilets in the park for visitors.
However, as you approach forward, monkey mothers on Keora branches will immediately get protective of their infants. Doves, parakeets, moynas, brown-winged kingfishers, weavers and other birds resting on different tree branches will stop chirping and fly away in a flock.
Besides, the red crabs will also run away.
But, the butterflies will flutter around and mosquitos will keep biting you. The snails and pests, unbothered, will carry on with their daytime jobs while Gewa, Jaam, Sundri, Karamcha and Bain-some of the local trees- will comfort your eyes.
"Like any the other forests, the wildlife population in Tengragiri is also declining," said Zahid Pramanik, Forest Officer, Sakhina Bit
But, mosquitos hatch freely in such a congenial atmosphere. During monsoon, mosquitos become a continuous menace in the eco-park.
However, the trail will end at one point on Sonakata coastline, where the mighty roaring waves strike continuously.
During low tide, soil erodes from the roots of coastal trees, shortening their lifetime. Thus, the three-kilometre long Sonakata beach has turned into a clutter of uprooted raintrees.
The public toilet at the beach also could not survive from the sea weaves.
However, steps to attract more tourists have been under process.
A proposal has been placed to the forest department for constructing a reinforced concrete cement road as a replacement of the present brick rail.
"A limited number of three-wheelers would be allowed on the concrete path for the tourists. It will save their time. The government can fetch more revenues if the communication facilities are developed," forest Officer Zahid told The Business Standard.
But, it will allow motorised three-wheelers plying in regular intervals.
"The vehicles, for sure, will disturb the wild animals", think Tamanna, Prottoy, Monira and Labib, students of Patuakhali Science and Technology University, who visited the forest recently.