Satchhari is the only forest where about 200 species of birds can be found within one square kilometre area of the forest
Satchhari National Park is the smallest national park in the country located at Chunarughat upazila of Habiganj district, which is also bordering India.
The forest, that covers an area of about one square kilometre, is basically a tropical rainforest. The total area of the forest – including the adjoining palm garden – is 243 hectares.
Although small in size, the park is a haven for birds. The number and kinds of birds seen in the park surpass any other place in the country. Many rich forests do not have this many bird species.
According to the Bangladesh Bird Club, more than 50 bird species live per square kilometre in any forest. But Satchhari is the only forest where about 200 species of birds can be found within one square kilometre area of the forest.
Even a number of rare and endangered species of birds are also available here.
Thus, this forest is at the top of the list of bird lovers and photographers of the country.
The red-headed Kuchkuchi bird, which is a rare sight now, can be spotted here. Besides, the other bird species include Shyamaghughu, Harial, Sabuj-Dhumkal, Papiya, Hutum-Pencha, Nildari-Suichora, Sumcha, among others.
Some of the birds here are not seen in many other forests, except the Sundarbans. Birds like Moyna and Tia are also available here.
Earlier, free movement of tourist disrupted the life of the birds. It had impact on their reproduction as well.
But the movement of people halted after the outbreak of the coronavirus. The bird species have regained their kingdom. The reproductive process is going on naturally. And the chirping sounds of the new bird has created a special environment in the forest.
Bangladesh Bird Club considers this situation a blessing for the birds.
The locals said that in normal times, tourists enter the forest and disturb the birds.
They make noise, throw stones at the birds, leave plastic waste behind. On top of that, some visitors move too close to the nest to take photos of the nestlings, which scare the birds.
Tofazzal Sohel, general secretary of Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon, Habiganj district committee, said that a large section of tourists lack awareness.
"They enter the forest and enjoy disturbing the birds. They throw stones, peek into the nests, and even shout and whistle. Some of them also touch the baby birds or eggs with their hands. Besides, some people use the forest as a picnic spot," he said.
He said that he had spent an hour about 25 days ago and had never seen a huge number of birds in the forest before.
"Birds are living as they desire because of less human movement. The number of birds is increasing due to natural breeding," he added.
Touhid Parvez Biplob, a wildlife photographer, said that Satchhari was a paradise for those who like bird photography.
"However, some ignorant people disturb the birds while taking their take pictures. It should be stopped," he added.
Tareq Anu, vice-president of Bangladesh Bird Club, said there is no other place in the country with such an enriched forest for birds.
"You do not see so many birds anywhere except the Sundarbans," he said.
"The breeding season is currently underway. Most of the birds have their breeding season from February to July. They can breed naturally during this time in Satchhari forest as there is less human movement due the outbreak of Covid-19," he said.
He suggested the movement of visitors should be stopped every year during the bird breeding season.
Inam Al Haq, founder of Bangladesh Bird Club said, "In Satchhari, we have 200 bird species in one square kilometre forest, instead of 50 species. This is actually not good news. This means, in our large country birds do not have a suitable place to live. So, they stay here."
"Personally, I like the forest as there are a wide varieties of trees, herbs and plants available. And they have a rich forest as well. Two hundred species of birds will live in a small forest only when the forest can provide their different dietary needs. It's a good sign," he said.
Inam Al Haq continued, "I've been to this forest for about a hundred times. The forest is changing day by day. This year, people did not go to the forest because of Covid-19. As a result, the birds did not experience disturbances. It's a blessing in disguise during their breeding season," said the birder.
ANM Abdul Wadud, Sylhet Divisional Forest Officer (Nature and Wildlife Conservation Department), said, "Nature has spread its wings. The presence of birds and other animals has increased. It's a lesson from coronavirus and we are planning for limited tourist movement in the future."