in West Bengal is the estuarine phase of the Ganges as well
river systems. This littoral forest is the only ecological habitat
of the tiger of its kind not only in India but also in the world
except in Bangladesh. The typical littoral forests of Sundarbans
comprises of a host of trees species adopted to the peculiar
condition of high salinity, lack of soil erosion and daily inundation
by high tides. The tidal forms and the mangrove vegetation in
are responsible for dynamic eco-system vigorous nutrient cycling
both terrestrial and aquatic. The whole eco-system is sensitive
to changes in salinity and the continuous cycle of erosion and
deposition is affecting the plant communities giving rise to
changes. The plant communities are continuously adjusting to the
Tiger Reserve provides characteristic type of habitat suitable for
animals inhabiting vast tidal swamp area. Because of their intimate
association with the estuarine environment, sizeable portion of
aquatic and semi-aquatic animal communities are inter-related with
the animals inhabiting the land areas. The uniqueness of the habitat
is said to have contributed to certain behavioral trends, which
are characteristic of Sundarbans tigers only. It is considered that
man-eating propensity of tiger in this area is hereditarily acquired
over a period of generations in the process of consumption of saline
wild boar, rhesus macaque are the main prey species of tiger. Aquatic
animals like the crabs and fishes are also eaten by Sundarban tiger
which occupies the pinnacle of both terrestrial as well as aquatic
mangrove is the home of a number of endangered and globally threatened
species. The Bengal Tiger and the fishing cat are getting effective
protection here. The creeks of Sundarbans form the home of Estuarine
Crocodile, Salvator Lizard (Water Monitor), River Terrapin and Horse
Shoe or King Crab. This area serves as the nesting ground for endangered
marine turtles like Olive Ridley, Green Turtle and Hawk's Bill Turtles.
The aquatic endangered mammals like Genetic Dolphins thrive within
mangrove creeks close to sea. Number of heronries form here during
monsoon as well as during winter. It is home for Trans-Himalayan
Sundarbans Tiger Reserve, created in 1973, was the part of the then
24-Pargans Division. Subsequently the area comprising of the present
tiger reserve was constituted as Reserve Forest in 1978. The total
area of the Sunderbans is 9630 sq. km. out of which 4264 sq. km.
bears mangrove forest. The area of the Reserve is 2585 sq. km. covering
land area of 1600 sq. km. and water body over 985 sq. km.
this area 1330.12 sq. km. is designated as core area, which was
subsequently declared as Sundarban National Park in 1984. An area
of 124.40 sq. km. within the core area is preserved as primitive
zone to act as gene pool.
the buffer zone, Sajnekhali Wildlife sanctuary was created in 1976
covering an area of 362.335 sq. km. Considering the importance of
the biogeographic region of Bengalian River Forests and its unique
biodiversity the National Park area of the Reserve was included
in the list of World Heritage Sites in 1985. Whole Sundarbans area
was declared as Biosphere Reserve in 1989.
swamp forests,Saline water type mixed forests ,brackish water type
mixed forests palm swamp type
are 64 plant species in Sundarbans and they have the capacity to
withstand estuarine conditions and saline inundation on account
of tidal effects.
sp., Heritiera sp., Ceriops sp., Phoenix sp., Sonneratia sp., Avicennia
sp., Rhizophora sp., Xylocarpus sp., Bruguiera sp. etc.
fishing cat, chital, wildboar, water monitor, estuarine crocodile.
Estuarian Crocodile, River Terrapin (Batagur baska), Olive Ridlay
Turtle, Gangetic Dolphin, Ground Turtle, Hawks Bill Turtle, King
Crabs (Horse shoe)
Achievements and Shortfalls
Reserve has received effective protection under Project Tiger since
its creation. The core area is free from all human disturbances
like fishing, collection of wood, honey and other forest produces
while in buffer fishing, honey collection and wood cutting are permitted
to a limited extent. Protection against poaching and theft of forest
produce has been ensured through intensive patrolling by staff in
motorboats and launches. The offices and camps are located at strategic
points to keep a watch over the area. There exists an effective
communication network for protection. Furthermore, the staff is
Intensive management takes care of the maintenance and improvement
of the habitat through eco-conservation, eco-development, education,
training and research. Mud-flats on the periphery of the reserve
are artificially regenerated with mangrove plants to meet local
fuel wood demand and reduce the pressure on buffer. Non-mangrove
plantations are also raised along roads and embankments of the fringe
area to cater the need of the fringe people.
Soil conservation is taken up to stabilize the vulnerable sites.
To facilitate the availability of sweet water for animals, ponds
have been dug at several places in the forest.
The other main activity is controlling man-eating by tigers which
existed here since time immemorial and the number of casualties
have been reduced from more than 40 to less than 10 per year. This
has become possible due to strict control over the movement of the
people inside the tiger reserve, alternative income generation and
awareness building among people. Use of human-masks, electric human
dummies etc. are believed to have also contributed in controlling
man-eating by tigers. The straying of tigers into the adjoining
villages is a serious problem in the area. Measures like erection
of branches of genwa, nylon net fencing at forest side and solar
illumination at village side at night have however, helped to reduce
the incidents of tiger straying. For rescuing the strayed tiger,
method of tranquilization using dart gun is also applied where driving
of the tiger to the nearby forest is not possible. The youth of
the villages have also been imparted training to enable them to
play appropriate role in controlling the straying of the tigers
into the habitation.
Reserve has successfully launched a special programme to conserve
the highly endangered Olive Ridley Turtles. Hatching of Olive Ridley
Turtles and River Terrapin is done at Sajnekhali to replenish their
of fringe people in the conservation of the tiger habitat, as it
could gradually be felt, has been possible through constant motivation
and awareness building of the people as well as increased public
liaison and their involvement in the planning process for implementation
of eco-development programme. Participatory Management has already
been introduced in Sundarbans Tiger Reserve and 10 Forest Protection
Committees and 14 Eco-development Committees have been formed in
the fringe of Sundarbans Tiger Reserve and the response is positive.
Sundarbans the following eco-development activities have been undertaken.
1. Excavation of rain water irrigation channel to increase agricultural
Provision of pisciculture ponds in the buffer area to be managed
by village co-operative for prawns and sweet water fish. This will
help in income generation.
Provision of Solar lights in the villages on the periphery both
for lighting as well as to scare away tiger from straying into the
Provision of smokeless chullahs for optimization of fuel consumption.
Raising mangrove plantations on the periphery to meet local fuel
Provision of medical care facilities to the villagers through collaborative
efforts of the Management and NGOs
Village Forest Protection Committees
Village Forest Protection Committees have been formed by the management
Education and Awareness
eco-system is very fragile and people's sustenance in the area,
again, mainly depends on the maintenance and sustainable use of
the eco-system. At the same time this eco-system is the most productive
eco-system on the planet guiding the benefit of the nutrient cycling
of both terrestrial as well as marine system. Therefore, understanding
of the system and its importance is very useful to the people and
awareness building among the people around the mangrove forest is
necessary. Educating people around the Reserve about the importance
of conservation of mangrove eco-system and its natural resources
as well as launching of programme of training and demonstration
of improvised technology for bringing socio-economic development
in the region will certainly help in the conservation of this unique
ecosystem. Thus, seminars, workshops, awareness camps etc are organised
frequently in the vicinity of Reserve. Interpretation trips are
also arranged for school students, villagers, Panchayat members
and women. Audio-visual equipment is being used to highlight the
need of conservation of nature and eco-system. Short term training
course about the mangrove eco-system are conducted for the registered
local tourist guides, which has generated local interest and employment.
The Mangrove Interpretation Centre established at Sajnekhali will
play a great role in awareness building and orientation of the people
and tourist towards the paramount importance of conservation of
nature in general and the mangrove eco-systems in particular.
Protection Squads / Patrolling
camps are manned by 2-3 knowledgeable labourers and supervised by
concerned beat guard/Forester/Range officer.
is no denying the fact that the mangrove zone because of its difficult
geographic situation and hostile terrain criss-crossed by a network
of turbulent streams and having long stretch of international border
with Bangladesh and fishing arena in the sea for thousands of trawlers
and mechanised boats is vulnerable to various threats like poaching
of animals and pilferage of woods. Compared to the size of this
protected area and the proportion of problems which is encountered
here the logistic support in terms of staff strength, infrastructure
facilities and availability of fund is inadequate.
is no village inside the Reserve.
the Tiger Reserve there are more than 1000 villages within Sundarbans
area out of which around 100 villages are very close to STR at the
north and north-west fringe of the Reserve.
is no livestock in the Reserve.
is no encroachment within the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve area. An
attempt for encroachment was made in 1978 in the Jhila Block (Marichjhapadi)
by the refugees from Bangladesh but the attempt was thwarted and
the area was made free from encroachers.
the mangrove forest of Sundarbans Tiger Reserve is bounded all through
its periphery by streams and creeks, there is no problem of cattle
grazing within the reserve.
does not occur.
Poaching of fauna and flora
core area of the Reserve is free from all biotic interference though
attempts of fishing are a disturbance.
Killing of Tigers Since 1990
Dayapur, killed by villagers
by private launch floating in Sudhanyakali
tiger found in a paddy field at Hamnagar (Poisioning)
in paddy field at Jamespur
by villagers near Central Satjelia School at Luxbagan
has been no incidence of epidemic
Control of the Buffer
of buffer is with the management of the Reserve.
propensity of Sundarban tiger has been a great problem. This happens
with either attack on villagers entering the forest or by tiger
straying into the habitation. Numerous steps taken by the management
has mitigated this problem to a large extent.
poverty urges the people of Sundarbans to frequent the forest in
search of livelihood. Some of them take the risk of cyclone for
fishing and other enter the forest to collect honey and fuel wood.
The vulnerable mangrove eco-system is under stress due to such interference.
Wild Animal - Forest
protection of vegetation in the core area without any manipulation
of crop density appears not to create ideal habitat condition for
the tiger and its prey animals