The Land of the “Sundari” trees

Sundarban is the largest unique forest in the world. The biodiversity of Sundarban is one of the richest in the world. The name “Sundarban” is derived from the word “Sundari” is a form of a mangrove tree. Formed by the confluence of river Ganga, Brahmaputra, Meghna and Padma, Sundarban is a National Park, Tiger Reserve and Biosphere Reserve in Bengal. It was declared a World Heritage site in 1997 and is also among the finalists of New 7 Wonders of Nature.

The soil is washed down by the rivers and is held on tightly by the special Mangrove Trees. These trees have breathing roots which enable them to breathe in the water as the soil is swampy in this region. In Sundarban, you don’t have to look for wildlife, wildlife will find you. Every nook and corner of Sundarban have something beautiful to offer.

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The Sundari Trees

A Glimpse of the Rich Flora and Fauna

The best way to explore Sundarban is by country boats, but make sure that you don’t disturb the animals there. Kingfishers are plenty here especially the brown winged kingfishers. Small Minivets, mostly the colorful males are found here in abundance. Mudskippers, Common Redshanks or more spectacular Black Capped Kingfishers can be seen in almost everywhere.

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The Common Redshanks

Welcome to the Jungle

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The Royal Bengal Tiger

The Royal Bengal Tigers is the main attraction of the Sundarban which brings people from all over the world. But you can only spot a Royal Bengal Tiger in the woods only if you are very lucky. The dense forests of Sundarban have much more to offer other than tigers. You can catch sight of Monitor Lizards basking in the morning sun in the narrow creeks. The environmental condition of Sundarban is perfect for the crabs and you can easily spot the brightly colored Red Fiddler Crabs strolling around. The crab-eating frogs that are found in the jungles is a rare species, found only in Sundarban.

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Monitor Lizard

King Cobra – World’s longest venomous snake is also found in the jungles of Sundarban.  The diverse ecosystem of Sundarban and its natural beauty is perfect for the photographers, every twist, and turn of Sunderban has something exciting and wonderful to offer. Shikra birds, Spotted deer, and Lesser Adjutants are few of the animals living in this enchanting forest. Nothing can be more thrilling than watching Monitor Lizards swimming across one of the channels, deer grazing at the end of the woods and colorful birds chirping happily in the trees while you take a relaxing boat ride.

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The Barking Deer

Most of the places have dense jungles and only in few places you can walk through it to climb a watch tower to take a glimpse of a tiger. Mornings in Sundarban is surreal. You can observe a Rhesus Macaque having breakfast on the tree, Scarlet Minivet, Greater Racket Tailed Drongo and False Tiger Moths flying around, busy doing their activities.

The Problem – the 3 “P’s”

Population

The diverse and rich ecosystem of Sunderban is now facing major problems due to population growth, excessive harvesting of natural resources and climate change. As a result, the number of animals is decreasing due to the loss of habitats. Some are even at the brink of extinction — The Royal Bengal Tiger, Fishing Cat, Barking deer, Otter, King Cobra, Monitor Lizard, Porcupine, Estuarine Crocodile, river Terrapin, Ganges River dolphins, Masked Finfoot, Lesser Adjutant and other birds. The mammals of Sundarban are most affected as they need a widespread habitat for sustaining life.

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The River Dolphins

Poaching

The Royal Bengal Tigers are decreasing not only because of loss of habitat but also due to illegal poaching. The Barking deer is also not in good state. Otters are decreasing due of water pollution and fishing cats are dying due to lack of food.

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Poaching

Pollution

Aquatic animals are being harmed due to water pollution and climatic change. Ganges River Dolphins are in bad condition – either they are getting caught in the fishing nets or they are dying because of excessive water pollution and accidents. Freshwater crocodiles and Gavial are not found anymore. River Terrapins, jackals, and monkeys which were once found in large numbers are not found anymore due to global warming, climatic change, and pollution.

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Destruction in Sundarban after cyclone

The wildlife of Sunderban is affected mainly due to human interference and resultant pollution. This zone is cyclone prone zone. Frequent cyclones devastate wildlife and cause huge destruction to human life and settlement as well. The mangroves of this region act as a natural barrier and protect the inhabitants to some extent.

The Remedy

The government has put special efforts to restore and preserve the rich ecosystem of Sundarbans.

  • The core area of the Sundarban National park does not allow any kind of human disturbance. The wood collection, honey collection, fishing, and poaching is prohibited in this region.
  • Through eco-development, eco-conservation, education and research habitat of wildlife are maintained.
  • Ten Forest Protection Committees and 14 Eco-development Committees have been formed in the fringe of Sundarbans Tiger Reserve to help in this regard.
  • Awareness is being spread among the people on eco-conservation, eco-development, and such other issues.
  • Mangroves and other plants are also being planted in the fringe area for fuelwood and other purposes so that the people are not forced to use the products of the core area. Almost 1000 villages depend on of these mangroves and trees.
  • Soil conservation is done by ecological balance and sweet water ponds are artificially dug up in the park for providing water to the animals.
  • The Bhagbatpur Crocodile Sanctuary is set up to safeguard, protect and increase the number of saltwater crocodiles. It has also become a famous tourist destination. There are more than 350 crocodiles here and few are as long as 14 foot.
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Bhagbatpur Crocodile Sanctuary

It is our responsibility to conserve and protect the beauty of the Sundarban. More we damage the environment of Sundarban, more it will affect us adversely. It is high time that we take responsibility for our actions so that our future generations can also enjoy the beauty of the jungles just like we do now.  Nature will protect us if we protect her.

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