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Spectrum Tours » National parks in india »Sunderbans national park

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With the state of West Bengal is attached the name of Sunderbans, by default. This mostly estuarine mangrove forest is the habitat of nearly 200 Royal Bengal Tigers. Passing through the mangroves by motor launch is quite an experience for the area is completely unspoilt and quiet unique from the more conventional wildlife parks. The park is also known for the conservation of the Ridley sea turtle.

Sundarbans National Park, spread over 1330 sq km, is the habitat of nearly 200 Royal Bengal tigers. Sunderbans is where the Ganga softly flows, desilting itself, making a perfect union with the deep blue sea. Thickly wooded, dark and mysterious, the Sunderbans offers a fascinating peep into the lives of the lords of the wild. The creeks, at one time, abounded with ferocious crocodiles too.

During the autumn months of September-October, the reserve sees the arrival of hundreds of thousands of beautiful birds on their winter long excursions. Besides these, there are deer, wild boars, monkeys and snakes. Gosaba, the nearest settlement, offers a launch or boat, guide and other facilities to the curious and enthusiastic visitor

The Sunderbans is a maze of mangrove-encrusted islands amidst a network of tidal creeks and distributaries at the mouth of the Ganga River. The reserve lies to the south-east of Kolkata, West Bengal, and is today a World Heritage Site. This swampy area was partitioned in 1947, and now the larger portion lies with Bangladesh. However, the Indian share of over 4,200 sq km constitutes more than half of the country's mangrove forests. The tiger reserve covers 2,585 sq km of which nearly 1,000 sq km is made up of creeks and waterways.

The best way to move around is to board a motorboat at Canning, Basanti, Gosaba or Sonakhali. A night spent anchored at the edge of a tidal creek, closely watching the dense curtain of mangrove for the elusive, striped cat is an experience beyond compare. According to official estimates, there are nearly 250 tigers, but only if one of the cats chooses to emerge into a clearing is a sighting possible in the thick waterlogged jungle habitat. The Sunderbans tiger is unusual in that it has adapted to the high salinity of the waters and has become almost amphibious, roving between islands or plodding along the edge of a creek at low tide, its coat gleaming with ooze, before vanishing into the tangled forest.

The dominant species in the Sunderbans, tigers tend to come into conflict with the intruding human population. Before venturing into the forests, honey- gatherers, woodcutters and fisher- folk pray to the great Tiger God for mercy. Although the conflict at times threatens to undermine all conservation work, the Project Tiger management is taking steps to mitigate the situation. Suggested measures include electrified dummies in fishing boats.

The Jungle Cat, Leopard-cat and Fishing Cat are among the almost 40 mammalian species here, some rather amphibious in their habits. Boat trips can be exciting, providing glimpses of Gangetic Dolphins, Clawless Otters, giant

Estuarine Crocodiles and several kinds of turtles including, perhaps, the endangered River Terrapin.
Birds are in plenty with a good range of waterside birds and several woodland species, their numbers augmented in winter by migrants from the north. There are heronries near Sajnekhali, the main tourism zone, and on several other islands.

Enduring the varying salinity levels are 400 species of fish, nearly 50 species of reptiles, and a modest floral count of around 120 species. Ensuring the survival of the complex Sunderbans forest and its wildlife is paramount to our own survival. It is a coastal stabilizer, taming the hostile world of tides and waves to protect the hinterland.

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