Sundarbans: The Largest Mangrove Forest in The World

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If you are asked to name some of the places of interest in Bangladesh, then the Sundarbans is one of the first places that will come to your mind. In addition to the unique gathering of animals and birds, including the Royal Bengal Tiger, and its historical significance, the forest has an endless natural beauty that is bound to catch the eye of travelers.

Introduction

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At the mouth of the Padma, Meghna, and Brahmaputra rivers, Khulna, Bagerhat, and Satkhira districts in the south-west of Bangladesh and some parts of India have formed this green land of endless natural beauty. Covering an area of ​​6016 km in Bangladesh and part of India, it stands at about 10,000 sq km. Although the Sundarbans were formed in an uninterrupted area, the country was divided into two parts, one part of which is ‘Sundarbans’ (Bangladesh) and the other part is Sundarbans National Park (India). In other words, the Sundarbans have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List twice under two different names.

Brief History and Structure

Many believe that the Sundarbans got their name from the forest of the sea (sea-forest) or the indigenous Chandra-dam here. However, the most widely accepted explanation is that the Sundarbans were named after Sundari, the main tree of the Sundarbans.

Not much is known about the origin of the Sundarbans, but it is thought that the erosive silt, sand, and gravel of the Himalayas have created char on the coast by the Padma and Brahmaputra flowing for thousands of years. On the other hand, as it is on the seashore, the char has been soaked in saltwater and silt has accumulated. Over time, a variety of plants have sprung up and mangrove forests have sprung up.

Surveying was not easy in the Sundarbans, which are rich in water bodies and wildlife. When the East India Company took ownership of the Sundarbans in 1757, it was first mapped. At that time the area of ​​the Sundarbans was about 16 thousand square kilometers. After that, as settlements gradually developed in the vicinity of the Sundarbans, their size gradually decreased. The first survey was conducted in 1829 when it was later acquired by the British government. After many ups and downs, the Sundarbans has declared a protected forest in 18 and the responsibility for the following year was handed over to the Forest Department. In this way, after India gained independence in ’47, this treasure of natural beauty was divided into two parts.

Plants and Animals

Brown winged kingfisher
Brown winged kingfisher in Sundarbans.

Compared to other mangrove forest plants in the world, there are significant differences in the vegetation of the Sundarbans. Because not only saltwater but also freshwater flows in the Sundarbans. This feature sets the Sundarbans apart from other mangrove forests worldwide.

Mangrove cone roots
Mangrove cone roots in Sundarbans.

The main reason for naming the Sundarbans is its beautiful trees. Needless to say, the most eye-catching plant in this forest is the beautiful tree. Besides, Gewa, Garan, and Keora are the forest divers of the Sundarbans. Since most of the plants here are evergreen, their physiological and structural adaptations are almost the same.

In 1903 David Prain wrote a book on the Sundarbans. There are 334 species of plants of 245 classes in the Sundarbans. And according to the information received so far, 35 out of 50 species of plants in the mangrove forest are found in our Sundarbans. The Sundarbans are also dominated by herbaceous plants characteristic of mangrove forests. Shawn, reed, and Golpata are among them.

Royal Bengal Tiger

Royal Bengal Tiger
Royal Bengal Tiger – The most handsome of all the tigers in the world which inhabits the Sundarbans.

The most notable of the diversity is the Royal Bengal Tiger, which inhabits the Sundarbans. The Royal Bengal Tiger is said to be the most handsome of all the tigers in the world.

In the fifties, tigers could be seen roaming almost everywhere in Bangladesh. The last Royal Bengal Tiger was observed in Madhupur and Gazipur in Dhaka in 1986. After that, the number of tigers in Bangladesh gradually decreased. And currently, the only habitat of this tiger is the Sundarbans. However, the number of tigers in the Sundarbans is also decreasing day by day. According to the 2004 census, the number of tigers in the Sundarbans was 440, but a private census in 2006 showed that the number was only 200-250, while the number of tigers in neighboring India was more than 1,400. And according to the latest census of 2015, the number of tigers in Bangladesh is only 106!

Other Animals

Saltwater crocodile in Sundarbans
Saltwater crocodile in Sundarbans Mangrove Forest.

Other animals in the Sundarbans include turtles, tortoises, chameleons, pythons, deer, and crocodiles. There are about 50 species of mammals in this forest. These include the Royal Bengal Tiger, Chitra Deer, Maya Deer, Rhesus Monkey, Forest Cat, Leopard, Hedgehog, and Wild Pig.

Sundarbans Monkey
Monkey in Sundarbans.

About 280 species of residents and 50 species of migratory birds are found in the Sundarbans. There are nine species of fish in the Sundarbans including woodpeckers, owls, honey bees, bulbuls, shaliks, finches, babuis, pigeons, bene bau, handicrafts, flowers, munias, fortunes, and various kinds of small singing birds.

Nature and flows of the Sundarbans
Nature and flows of the Sundarbans mangroves forest river.

The seven-meter-long estuary crocodile is one of the main attractions of the Sundarbans among about 50 species of reptiles. In addition to crocodiles, there are lizards and turtles. When walking in the Sundarbans, do not be surprised at all if something slips on your feet! Because a lot of snakes are seen all over the Sundarbans. Notable among the snakes are King cobra, Russell’s viper, python, banded crate.

Boat moving throughout the Sundarbans river
A boat moving throughout the Sundarbans mangroves forest river.

There are numerous rivers and streams throughout the Sundarbans and there are about 400 species of fish. The abundance of fish like Kala Shark, Ilsha Kamat, Thunti Kamat, Kanua Kamat, Parshe etc. can be seen in this forest. In addition to fisheries, there are about eight species of amphibians.

About 29 species of animals in the Sundarbans have become extinct in the face of various natural and man-made threats. These include tigers, cheetahs, cats, otters, rhinos, Irrawaddy (dolphins), dolphins, blue cows, wolves, sea eagles, white owls, giant bucks, and many more.

Economy and Tourism Center

The Sundarbans have immense economic importance. About 4 million people, both permanent and temporary, live in the Sundarbans. They make their living from this single forest. Some may cut down trees in the forest to provide fuel, some may cover the roof with Golpata, and beekeepers may collect honey to make a living. About 45% of our country’s wood and fuel come from the Sundarbans. In addition, about 41% of the forest revenue comes from this forest land.

Local boatman with his boat
Local boatman with his boat in Sundarbans Mangrove Forest.

The Sundarbans is not far behind from the utility of the tourist center. Thousands of tourists from local countries and abroad visit the Sundarbans every year. The influx of foreign tourists also adds some foreign exchange to our national income.

This forest is still an adventurous attraction for tourists as it is rich in the fascinating natural environment and various wildlife walks. It is not possible to keep yourself away from its charm very easily. In the Sundarbans, Katka, Hiran Point, Dublar Char, and Tiger Point are the main tourist attractions. In addition to the impressive natural beauty of these places, the movement of wild animals will easily catch the eye of tourists. And with the observation tower, there are facilities for tourists like a guest center. There are rest houses, and steamer or boat facilities also available for tourists to travel across the forest.

So, If you are a real nature lover never forget to visit Sundarbans in your life. If you miss, something will be missed in your life. If you are planning to visit Sundarbans Bangladesh, I hope you will not miss this great natural forest. I think it would be one of the great places you have ever seen. So if you want you can easily come back from the Amazon of Bengal i.e. Sundarbans. 🙂

Conclusion

Just as a mother protects her child in all storms and dangers with deep compassion, so does the Sundarbans protect Bangladesh. The lion’s share of the oxygen necessary for our survival comes from the forests of the Sundarbans. Therefore, it is important for the survival of the Sundarbans in the interest of human welfare. Because if the Sundarbans survive, Bangladesh will survive, the biodiversity of this country will survive, the people of this country will survive.

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