Once crowded and noisy, the Bogura Govt Azizul Haque College campus remains quiet for months, due to closure during the pandemic. The silver lining? The green grounds becoming a bird paradise.
While visiting the campus twice recently, this reporter found birds like lesser whistling duck, purple sunbird, pheasant-tailed jacana, painted-snipe, cinnamon bittern, yellow bittern, white-breasted waterhen, alongside many indigenous birds and animals including golden jackal, squirrels, lizards, and turtles.
Students of the college formed 'TEER' (Team for Energy and Environmental Research), a voluntary organisation, in 2011 and have since taken an initiative to protect the animals and birds on the campus.
"These birds were not seen on the campus even three years ago. After an initiative by TEER to conserve wildlife on the campus, birds and animals began returning," said Dr SM Iqbal, a local bird expert and associate professor of zoology at Govt MM Ali College in Tangail, who previously worked with TEER.
"Before I joined as principal of the college, some land within the campus were leased out for cultivating crops. Now we turned those croplands into a waterbody where many birds have taken shelter and some of them have started breeding," said Prof Md Shahjahan Ali, principal of Govt Azizul Haque College.
"We have declared this campus a wildlife sanctuary since 2018, and started conservation of the species found here. TEER has done commendable work in this regard and has been protecting wildlife on the campus," said the principal.
"Since its inception in 2011, members of TEER initiated awareness programmes among students of the college on the immense significance of wildlife in environment," Arafat Rahman, president of the organisation, told The Daily Star.
Also, TEER members have rescued almost 1,200 birds and animals since 2011 from Bogura and adjacent districts and most of those were handed over to the local forest department.
"We released around 200 rescued birds on this campus. We also assist the IUCN in rescuing vultures in this area," said Arafat Rahman.
"In order to protect wildlife within campus, we should refrain from disrupting their lives. The college authority should create more awareness among the students as well as among the residents who live nearby, and ensure less crowd in the birds' breeding areas," Dr SM Iqbal suggested.
Bogura Govt Azizul Haque College is a renowned government-run educational institution in north Bengal. The college was established during the British era (1939) and its campus covers 63 acres of land. The college has a total of 25,000 students under 23 departments.