Speaking at Bangladesh Independence Day Celebrations

Spoon-billed Sandpiper on Sonadia Island, Bangladesh

Sonadia Island
Photograph taken by and copyright Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig

I am really proud of my Bangladeshi heritage. It means a lot to me and knowing about Bangladeshi wildlife and conservation projects is important.

On 26 March 1971, 45 years ago today, Sheikh Mujib, declared Bangladesh an independent country. The war was not won until November that year, but the birth of the nation is celebrated on this date.

The Bangladeshi students at University of the West of England (UWE) have a Bangladeshi Students’ Group and were holding a celebration of independence.

First we heard a speakers talking about their memories of the war, their fear of being killed in the massacres and the tactics used by General Usmani (who was trained in the British Army) to win the war. It was interesting that Bangladeshi’s knowledge of their nature, rivers and habitats were used to help win the war. I had never really heard anyone talk about this.

Sayam U Chowdhury is a prominent Bangladeshi conservationist who runs the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project

I gave a talk called “Celebrating Bangladesh’s Spoon-billed Sandpiper”. I talked about Sayam U Chowdhury and his brilliant Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project, visiting the Spoon-billed Sandpipers with Sayam at the Wildlife and Wetlands Trust (WWT) Slimbridge, my trip to Sonadia Island to survey Spoon-billed Sandpiper with the project and the importance of media publicity.

Mohammed Foysal and Sakib Ahmed from the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Sakib Ahmed and Mohammed Foysal from the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig, Sakib Ahmed and Mohammed Foysal from the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig and Mohammed Foysal from the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig with local children and the Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

I also talked about the World Shorebirds Day project and the Spoon-billed Sandpiper being one of it’s nominated birds.

I mentioned the talk I gave in Dhaka but this was the first time I had spoken to Bangladeshi’s in the UK. People talk me afterwards how interesting it was to hear about one of their own birds, that they didn’t know about. There were also quite a few children in the audience, who seemed to stop fidgeting when I started talking.

It was great to be able to talk about committed conservationists in Bangladesh like Sayam U Chowdhury and those working for his like Mohammed Foysal and Sakib Ahmed. They are a fantastic inspiration and I am really lucky to have met them and been allowed to survey Bangladesh’s Spoon-billed Sandpiper with them. I am sure that the audience were proud to learn that Bangladeshi conservationists were influencing not only those in Bangladesh but also conservationists across the world.
Quite a few of the Bangladeshi students were studying law and all talked about it being a high earning profession in Bangladeshi. Mum (who was a partner in a law firm) and I talked to them about how important it was that they were committed to saving the environment and promoting human rights when they return, as the country was relying on them. I’m not sure that they will but maybe I will have sparked an interest.

 

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