Otters & FishBangladesh
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Every night from 2am until sunrise even through the coldest nights of Bangladeshi winter, Ranjeet and his three partners cruise along the waterways of southern Bangladesh fishing with otters.
Bangladesh is one of the last places on earth where this ancient tradition is still practiced. For centuries, fishermen from this area have trained wild otters to muster fish towards their nets, improving their catch significantly.
However, without any protection or encouragement, this tradition is rapidly dying. “It’s not possible to support a family with this profession anymore”, says Ranjeet a 60 year-old fisherman, who has used this technique for over 30 years. As rivers dry up and the fish population decreases, Ranjeet and his team barely make a living. Ranging from US$8 to US$12, their daily income supports around 25 people.
Changes on fishing laws have also added a threat to this practice. Since new policies give no legal rights on fishing lots, wealthy owners of the riverbanks can push smaller fishermen like Ranjeet to adjacent waterways where the catch is poorer.
As result, unlike prior generations where fishermen would pass on their knowledge to their younger ones, Ranjeet’s sons have moved away to the already overcrowded cities of Bangladesh looking for better opportunities.