Their mouths tied with tape, 40 passengers were herded last week into the Alitalia flight to Dhaka, where ministers lined up to welcome them. For once, India and Bangladesh are seeing eye-to-eye on a group of migrants. In a cross-border conservation programme,
New Delhi is helping its neighbor rebreed the tropical marsh crocodile by sending over eight males and 32 females. The scaly, cold-blooded animals were placed in well-ventilated wooden boxes that were loaded on to the aircraft's hold at Chennai airport this
evening. The species has virtually become extinct in Bangladesh, said Harry V. Andrews (The Telegraph, June 24), director of the 30-year-old Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, which is conducting the "goodwill mission". The Bangladesh environment ministry had made
a request for the crocodiles a few months ago, Andrews said. "We had to get clearance from the Zoo Authority of India and our environment ministry." The Bangladesh government is paying for the journey. The crocodiles will get a grand reception at Dhaka airport
from the ministers there," Andrew added with a chuckle. 40 adult crocodiles were selected from a bank of 2,400 at the trust's farm, located off the highway from Chennai to Mamallapuram. The males are aged between 25 and 30 years, each a little over 3 meters
in length. The females are all 18 years old and measure 2.50-2.75 meters. Eight females and two males will go straight to the Dhaka zoo while the rest will be divided among three captive breeding centers elsewhere in the country. Andrews said he would travel
with his team to Bangladesh some time later to help the neighbors breed the crocodiles. India's successful Crocodile Project has drawn many of its neighbors' attention. "Nepal has also requested our trust to send marsh crocodiles but this has had to be put
on hold because of the political problems there," he said. Some time ago, there had been an enquiry from Pakistan, too.
More cross border initiatives addressed towards conservation and environmental problems will hopefully not only contribute to resolving differences between countries but also provide a foundation for devising much more effective solutions to these problems.