I had the opportunity to explore the stunning Sylhet region on several occasions, but Habiganj remained uncharted territory. This time, our sights were set on the Rema-Kalenga Wildlife Sanctuary, nestled in Chunarughat, Habiganj, and in close proximity to Srimangal. In this blog, I’ll take you through our journey to this remarkable sanctuary, offering insights into how to get there and why it is renowned among nature enthusiasts.
Our journey began with the quest to reach Habiganj. Although train travel is known for its comfort, securing tickets can be challenging. Consequently, we embarked on an overnight bus journey that saw us arrive in Habiganj before sunrise, brimming with anticipation. There, we patiently awaited the arrival of our fellow travelers.
An Afternoon of Discovery
As morning turned into afternoon, we assembled as a group, enjoyed a hearty breakfast, and hopped into a CNG vehicle en route to Chunarughat. Following a sumptuous lunch, we set out to explore the Rema-Kalenga Wildlife Sanctuary. Given its protected status, we encountered a plethora of wildlife, including birds, monkeys, gibbons, and even a snake. It was a two-hour-long sightseeing excursion in the jungle. An official guide was present to show us the various aspects of this jungle. Initially, due to its deteriorating condition, we avoided a watchtower that offered a vantage point. However, during the evening, heavy rainfall began, and we sought shelter under the large trees.
For our accommodation at night, we had tents that we brought from Dhaka. As a team of around 30 people, it took us almost an hour to find a suitable place to pitch all our tents.
In the evening, we arranged a barbecue chicken dinner. We dined together, planned for the next day, and then retired to our tents for a good night's sleep.
The following day, five of us decided to delve deeper into the forest, despite knowing the potential risks. We hired a local guide to ensure our safety.
Within the protected forest, we marveled at the presence of grand, ancient trees. Alarming reports of illegal tree cutting and black market activities, facilitated by corrupt government authorities, shed light on the perils lurking in the forest. This illicit trade was also responsible for several tourists falling prey to forest muggings, as the perpetrators aimed to keep outsiders from discovering the true state of the forest. We noted a significant loss of majestic trees within the forest’s heart.
On our journey, we crossed paths with concerned officials who provided us with an escort to enhance our safety.
The Homeward Bound Journey
After a comprehensive exploration lasting several hours, we made our way to a nearby village. From there, we embarked on a CNG ride that eventually led us to Shayestagonj on the highway. A bus ride then completed our journey, returning us to Dhaka, where we recounted our adventures with a sense of fulfillment.
Our journey to the Rema-Kalenga Wildlife Sanctuary in Habiganj was marked by both beauty and challenges. We explored a protected forest teeming with diverse wildlife while unearthing the disheartening tale of illegal tree felling and corruption that plagued this pristine area. The journey reminded us of the importance of preserving such natural wonders for future generations to cherish and protect. In this unique adventure, we found a deeper appreciation for the fragility and resilience of our planet’s ecosystems, and a call to action to safeguard them.