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The Sunderbans

This huge mangrove forest (sometimes referred to as a tidal swamp forest), covering an area of 2500 square kilometers is located in West Bengal, in the 24 Pargana district, and within the Sunderbans tiger reserve. This vast swampy delta has forests, swamps, and islands interwoven with a network of small rivers and rivulets. The meeting place of land and water is usually an area of high productivity and so is the case with the Sunderbans.

There is a great deal of diversity in the forms of life which exist here, which includes a variety of fish, shellfish, etc. Apart from the tiger, for which the reserve is famous, there are large numbers of wild boar and chital. The Javan rhinocerous, the wild boar, and the swamp deer, which were once a feature of this place, are now extinct in these areas. The estuarine crocodile is often seen along the mud banks as also the Ridley sea turtle. It is the habitat of more than 200 royal Bengal tigers on the Indian side but the combined population, including the Bangladesh side, will be more than 400. These tigers have adopted themselves to the saline and watery environment. They are practically amphibious and good swimmers.

In this large mangrove forest is the Kollern lake,which is the nesting ground for a variety of water birds such as the open billed stork, ducks, heron, little comorant, the large egrets, and other migratory birds.

The Sunderbans has remained a comparatively pristine area providing adequate cover for wildlife as the human activities have been limited to honey collection and collection of wood products and wood for household use.


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