We are pleased to announce that, Nature Conservation Management has launched its very first series of work on species conservation. The wait is finally over. NACOM’s “Species Conservation Initiatives” series is here with details.
The very first species of the “Chondrichthyes series” has been launched, and the species is the “Giant Freshwater stingray”. It is an important species for the ecosystem. However, it is now found in a small population around the world and has been placed on the IUCN red list. In Bangladesh, NACOM has taken some initiatives for its conservation. Detailed information about the status of the species, its threats, conservation benefits, and the conservation initiatives by NACOM is mentioned below:
English Name: Giant Freshwater stingray
Scientific Name: Urogymnus polylepis
Local Bangla Name: শাপলাপাতা, (Shaplapata)
Status Globally: Endangered
Distribution: The giant freshwater stingray is an elusive creature that inhabits deep rivers in Southeast Asia and northern Australia. In Bangladesh, it is found in the Bay of Bengal.
Threats: A few years back, fishermen along Bangladesh’s coasts caught sharks and stingrays only when the fish was stuck in nets. With time, their commercial value has grown. Now, poachers are competing to catch these sea creatures. They are hunted not for general consumption but for their fins and organs to be sold at high prices. Overfishing, habitat loss, and climate change are the major threats to giant freshwater stingrays.
Conservation Benefit: Rays serve important ecosystem functions, including stabilizing food webs and acting as ecosystem engineers through bioturbation. Bioturbation helps to rework soils and sediments by animals or plants. It includes burrowing, ingestion, and defecation of sediment grains. Bioturbating activities have a profound effect on the environment and are thought to be a primary driver of biodiversity. As mesopredators, rays prey on various primary consumers while also being prey for apex predators. It is used for protection against predators such as sharks.
Conservation Initiative by NACOM: During 2006-2007, NACOM conducted a survey on this species about their population size, status, and threats in Bangladesh. Moreover, recently, under the ongoing IBAP (Implementation of Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan) project at Sonadia Island, since 2019, NACOM has been conducting yearly species monitoring surveys around the Moheshkhali, Sonadia Island with an aim to understand the species diversity, distribution, population status, and associated threats.
A series of awareness campaigns, awareness meetings, awareness through folklore drama, IEC and billboards, and education & training programs for fishermen are dedicatedly organized to engage local communities and fishermen’s communities in and around the Sonadia ECA for the conservation of the species. Furthermore, under additional conservation activities, NACOM is determined to protect these and avoid any kind of impact on them.