Our Rediscovery of Sun Bears in Bangladesh brings new opportunities for the conservation of this majestic but threatened species
Chittagong Hill Tracts
The forests of southeast Bangladesh are confined to the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT), bordering India and Myanmar. Herein remains the last intact tropical mixed-evergreen forest of Bangladesh. It is our mission to protect these forests and the astounding biodiversity within, before the destructive practices of wanton land development erase what's left - forever.
Since 2011, we’ve worked closely with the local communities in the Sangu-Matamuhuri Reserve Forest, listening to their concerns and gaining their trust. We’re now positioned to affect real change in the region, but this is no small task! Change requires a multi-directional approach culminating in a holistic program engaging both local stakeholders and government agencies. We are providing solutions from all possible angles including the mitigation of subsistence wildlife hunting and commercial poaching in exchange of primary schools, marketing traditional crafts to reduce the ethnic communities dependency on the forest resources, empowering former hunters as parabiologists/conservation heroes, and establishing rare plant nurseries, marketing sustainably-grown cash crops, and petitioning the highest levels of government. We are determined to protect these ancient forests for the benefit of all parties.
By marketing traditional indigenous crafts we are providing sustainable and alternative incomes for local communities, empowering women artisans, sustaining our Schools for Conservation, and reducing local dependency on forest resources. Proceeds from every purchase go directly to the communities through an ethical social business model where they can be applied in a culturally-appropriate manner. By collaborating with local communities and other non-government organizations to train and engage a younger generation of artisans we are successfully reviving lost cultures. Our traditional ethnic crafts are currently being designed and sold, with the help of Bcraft, at Aranya boutique in Dhaka, Bangladesh and will be available internationally soon.
We are building and supporting primary schools in the remotest areas of Bangladesh, for an amenable exchange of hunting and logging moratoriums protecting 27+ globally-threatened species including Asian elephants, 8 turtle species, Chinese pangolins, gaur, gibbons, hornbills, etc. Through this initiative, we can create indigenous-managed sanctuaries while bringing literacy and alternative livelihoods to the region to empower the local communities.
Indigenous parabiologists are a foundation of our organization. Local community members - with little to no formal education - are trained to carry out basic scientific tasks such as collecting morphometric data, GPS logging, and telemetry work. These citizen scientists act as role models for their communities and serve as local conservation ambassadors for the region. Without these dedicated souls we would not have the manpower or requisite traditional ecological knowledge of the study areas to conduct our research.