Sundarbans National ParkThe Sundarbans National Park is a National Park, Tiger Reserve, UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve located in the Sundarbans delta in Indian state of West Bengal. This region is densely covered by mangrove forests, and is one of the largest reserves of the Bengal tiger. It is also home to a variety of bird, reptile and invertebrate species, including the salt-water crocodile.
HistoryThe present Sundarbans National Park was declared as the core area of Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in 1973 and a wildlife sanctuary in the year 1977. On 4 May 1984 it was declared a National Park. It was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987. Whole Sundarbans area was declared as Biosphere Reserve in 1989.
GeographySundarbans National Park is located in between 30° 24' - 30° 28' N longitude and between 77° 40' - 77° 44' E latitude in the South 24 Parganas district in the Indian state of West Bengal. The average altitude of the park is 7.5 m above sea level. The park is made up of 54 small islands and it crisscrossed by several tributaries of Ganga and Brahmaputra.
Sundarbans National Park is the largest estuarine mangrove forest in the world. Twenty-six of the fifty broad mangrove types found in the world grow well in the Sundarbans. The commonly identifiable vegetation that grow in the dense mangrove forests at the Sundarbans are salt water mixed forest, mangrove scrub, brackish water mixed forest, littoral forest, wet forest and wet alluvial grass forests.
Climate The average maximum and minimum temperature is 34 °C and 20 °C respectively. Rainfall is heavy with high humidity as high as 80% as it is close to the Bay of Bengal. The monsoon lasts from mid-June to mid-September. Prevailing wind is from the north and north-east from October to mid-March and south west westerlies prevails from mid-March to September. Storms which sometimes develop into cyclones are common during the month of May and October.
Flora and faunaFlora
There are 64 plant species in Sundarbans and they have the capacity to withstand estuarine conditions and saline inundation on account of tidal effects. In the month of April and May the flaming red leaves of the Genwa the crab-like red flowers of the Kankara and the yellow flowers of Khalsi can be seen, which add a beauty to the surroundings. Some of the more commonly found plants and trees in the park are Genwa, Dhundal, Passur, Garjan, Kankra, Sundari and Goran.
The Sundarbans forest is home to more than 200 tigers. The Royal Bengal Tigers have developed a unique characteristic of swimming in the saline waters, and are world famous for their man-eating tendencies. Apart from the Royal Bengal Tiger; Fishing Cats, Macaques, Wild Boar, Common Grey Mongoose, Fox, Jungle Cat, Flying Fox, Pangolin, Chital, are also found in abundance in the Sundarbans.
Some of the more popular birds found in this region are - Open Billed Storks, White Ibis, Water Hens, Coots, Pheasant Tailed Jacanas, Pariah Kites, Brahminy Kites, Marsh Harriers, Swamp Partridges, Red Jungle Fowls, Spotted Doves, Common Mynahs, Jungle Crows, Jungle Babblers, Cotton Teals, Herring Gulls, Caspian Terns, Gray Herons, Brahminy Ducks, Spotted Billed Pelicans, Large Egrets, Night Herons, Common Snipes, Wood Sandpipers, Green Pigeons, Rose Ringed Parakeets, Paradise Flycatchers, Cormorants, Fishing Eagles, White Bellied Sea Eagles, Seagulls, Common Kingfishers, Peregrine falcons, Woodpeckers, Whimprels, Black-Tailed Godwits, Little Stints, Eastern Knots, Curlews, Golden Plovers, Pintails, White Eyed Pochards and Whistling Teals.
Aqua fauna Some of the fish and amphibians found in the park are Sawfish, Butter Fish, Electric Rays, Silver carp, Star Fish, Common Carp, King Crabs, Prawn, Shrimps, Gangetic Dolphins, Skipping Frogs, Common Toads and Tree Frogs.
The Sundarbans National Park houses an excellent number of reptiles as well. Some of the common ones are - Olive Ridley Turtles, Sea Snakes, Dog Faced Water Snakes, Green Turtles, Estuarine Crocodiles, Chameleons, King Cobras, Salvator Lizards, Hard Shelled Batgun Terrapins, Russels Vipers, Mouse Ghekos, Monitor Lizards, Curviers, Hawks Bill Turtles, Pythons, Common Kraits, Chequered Killbacks and rat Snakes.
Park-specific informationPark-specific information:The best and only means of travelling the park is to hire a boat and float down the various lanes formed by the many flowing rivers. You can travel in any of the local boats or in luxury launches namely M.V. Chitrarekha and M.V. Madhukar, which are operated by the tourism department.
Apart from viewing the wildlife from the boat safaris, you can also visit the following places in Sundarbans which are Bhagatpur Crocodile Project which is a crocodile breeding farm (access from Namkhana), Sagar Island, Jambudweep, Sudhanyakali watchtower, Buriidabri Tiger Project, Netidhopani Watchtower, Haliday Island (famous for Barking Deer), Kanak (nesting place of Olive Ridley Turtle), Sajankhali Bird Sanctuary (famous for avian fauna).
Lodging:Forest lodge and forest rest-houses are available for accommodation at Sajnekhali, Bakkhali and Piyali. The cruise launches MV Chitralekha and MV Sarbajaya also have lodging facility. Lodging facilities are also available at Sundarbans Jungle Camp on Bali Island run by Help Tourism Group with collaboration with local communities and members of Bali Nature and Wildlife Conservation Society.
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