Things that make you to Think
Passion, Game and Income source
Photography by Abid Azad
Pigeons are usually found in villages where there are ample lofts for the birds to nest as well as reproduce. Breeding pigeons, both commercially and as a hobby, has its own merits as they are a great source for income generation on top of being a peaceful and serene pet. Commercial breeding of pigeons takes very little investment of money and space; such an operation can be commenced by utilising a few thousand takas and a miniscule area such as a terrace or veranda.
There are more than 2,000 pigeon breeders in Dhaka city with more than 20,000 scattered across the country, especially in Chittagong, Dinajpur, and Barisal. However all is not well. Pigeon trafficking is a very lucrative underground business with a annual turnover of Tk 10 crores. According to Tanvir Hassan, general secretary of Bangladesh Fancy Pigeon Breeders Association (BFPBA), a bunch of criminals are involved in smuggling pigeons from Bangladesh to India. While visiting Kaptan Bazaar, this reporter found there are three major pigeon haats around Dhaka city – Tongi, Kaptan, and Jinjira Bazaar – where pigeons are illegally captured and sold by yet another criminal syndicate.
“The amateur bird lovers face a lot of problems since most of the best breeds are bought by fraudulent businessmen in connivance with dishonest traders looking to bag a quick profit. It is very hard for those with little know-how about the different breeds of pigeons,” says Tanvir. Not to mention the fact that some or most of these pigeons are quite possibly infected with various contagious diseases; this could wipe out a pigeon farm.
Tanvir, who has some 200 species of pigeons including some rare breeds like the Victorian Crowned Pigeon which costs Tk 500,000 per pigeon, says, “As we cannot rely on our local bazaar we have to import the pigeons from abroad. Moreover, we rarely can manage pure food and proper vaccination for them, in our country; this forces us to import these vaccines as well which we can then provide to our association members.”
Every pigeon is tagged in its leg, with a unique code that differs from country to
country, 4 to 5 days after its birth. This enables accurate identification of its parents and its country of origin. Amateur bird enthusiasts are sometimes hoodwinked by some dishonest traders who tag the birds with counterfeit tags in order to pass them off as exotic breeds. In this way many a novice bird lover has been robbed off of their money as well as their enthusiasm to invest in this hobby, while the deceitful traders make off with huge sums of money.
Although people in general like to see the pigeons flying in the sky unperturbed and free, there are some pigeon lovers who like to engage in betting with their exotic ‘racer’ pigeons. In old Dhaka, cash challenges are thrown by owners of the pigeon breeds of Racer Homer and Fancy Pigeon. They hold races with Racer Homer or Giribaj, while the bets’ amounts range from Tk 5,000-100,000.
Every pigeon is given a tag number, in order to identify the winning bird. The cost of a pair of Racer Homer pigeons starts from Tk 10,000.
Most of the European countries conduct races from country to country as it is a nationally played sport; while in our country it has still not gained national recognition.
Bangladesh Racing Pigeon Association (BRPA) conducts a pigeon race every year during the winter season. There are approximately 200 members in the BFPBA with more than 110 members in BRPA.
To participate in the race one has to be a member of the BRPA club and then his/her pigeon will be given a tag and a unique tag number. The race takes place by two routes: from Sirajganj to Tetulia and Comilla to Teknaf.
On the other hand, people are spellbound by the fancy pigeons because of their beautiful and attractive colours, different sizes and ornate feathers. Bokhara, King, Reverse Wing Pouter, Jacobin, Uzbek Tumbler, American Fantail, Berlin Short Face, Frill Back are some of the most popular fancy pigeons.
The cost of a pair of Fancy Pigeon depends on its look and species. The amount starts from Tk 5,000 to any amount found feasible by both buyer and seller while some fancy pigeons cost upto several lacs of takas.
As aforementioned in the article, breeding pigeons can provide oneself with a good source of income. Arif Al Kamal, an engineering student and a member of BRPA says, “Although I started pigeon breeding only as a hobby, later on I began to earn more than Tk 20,000 from it.”
“A pair of pigeons lay between 6 to 12 pairs of eggs from which one can withdraw his investment within a short time and can reinvest by buying more pigeons,” added Arif.
Pigeon lovers are always concerned about pigeon’s identity – its originating country, its parents and grandparents as well as its physical condition at the time of purchase.
Breeders who buy for racing purpose are very conscious about the blood circulation, feathers, lips and eyes of the pigeons. They can glean all the information just by a touch and a glance on it.
“The general people are not very aware of the potential of pigeons in our country. This is evident in the fact that pigeons are still killed, indiscriminately, to feed themselves. Importing pigeons from abroad has its own share of hassles as we may not be sure that the pigeons imported are truly from the wild or not,” says Rajon, a pigeon lover from old Dhaka.
“Due to lack of proper breeding, we have been losing some of our countryside pigeons which have their own special qualities like Krishno, Coco, Goli, Parvin, Charal, Noton ,” says Arif.
Enthusiastic pigeon lovers like members of BFPBA and BRPA are working eagerly to involve young people as it can be a good source of income and at the same time one can find a peaceful and friendly environment inside their homes.
“I have seen many young people who were drug addicted earlier but after keeping these pigeons as pets they are now in a much more stable and serene life. I believe someone who can learn to take care of such a defenceless bird can do no harm to himself and certainly not to society,” says Tanvir.
This article was published @ Daily Sun