A brief introduction to the Sundarbans…

The Sundarbans forest has been in existence for about 4,000 years and has been formed by silt from the Himalayas brought down by the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers. The Sundarbans waterways rise and fall with the Bay of Bengal tide, with high tide reached every 12 hours and 50 minutes. The Sundarbans of Bangladesh and India covers a total of 10,000 km2, 6,000 km2 of which is on the Bangladeshi side. It is classified as a mangrove forest from the collection of tree types that can survive in this highly saline environment. Mangrove forests support a unique mixture of plants and animals, but unfortunately there is little of this forest type remaining in the world.

the Bangladeshi people with wood, neepa, grass, honey, prawns, shrimp and fish.

The Sundarbans is also part of the cultural heritage of Bangladesh. When people from other countries think of Bangladesh, they nearly always associate it with the Sundarbans. In terms of the history of the Bangladeshi people, there are still the remains of the salt factories down in Katka and the 500-600 year old temples at Sheiker Tek. Linked to the future of the forest is the future of wild tigers. A well protected Sundarbans will ensure that future generations will know what it’s like to walk in a forest inhabited by wild tigers, and get the benefits of a healthier environment.

Protecting the tiger means keeping its home intact and functioning in a natural way. This relies on the continued interaction of many different plant and animal species . There are approximately 300 plant, 32 mammal, 35 reptile, 125 fish and 300 bird species so far listed for the Sundarbans. Each organism has an important role to fulfill.

The trees roots secure soil that would otherwise be washed away. Plants provide essential food and shelter to all the animals living in the Sundarbans. The trees also give stalking cover for the tiger. The tree cover is largely dominated by Sundri, Gewa, Goran, and Keora. When trees die and fall over, they provide a home to another set of animals, plants and fungi. The rotting woody material gets recycled and added to the composition and nutrient content of the soil. Tree trunks drifting out to sea are valuable resting places for a number of sea birds.

The tiger helps regulate the populations of deer, wild boar and monkey. When a tiger makes a kill, the valuable food of the carcass is then available to a wide range of different mammals (wild boar, jungle cats, civets, jackal), reptiles (monitor lizards), birds (crows, adjutant stalks, rufus tree pies) and insects.Deer, wild boar and monkey consume a lot of plant material, which in turn affects the general vegetation structure of the Sundarbans.

Their droppings provide nutrition to insects and plants, as well as disperse seeds so that plants can colonize new areas. The Irrawady dolphin, Gangetic dolphin, Finless porpoise and Indo-pacific hump-backed dolphins feed on the various fish species in the river, as do otters. In doing so, they are regulating fish stocks and providing sources of nutrition to other organisms. Fish feed on vegetation, insects, and in some cases, other fish. They are also the main food for many other animals. Bees, beetles, flies, butterflies and other insects all are important pollinators of plants.

They are also a vital component of the natural recycling system that turns dead plant and animal matter into nutrients that can be used by others. Monitor lizards are important scavengers of carcasses. Other types of lizards, such as Gekos, feed on insects. Snakes help keep the rodent population in check, while crocodiles feed on fish, birds and carrion.Birds fill a variety of roles in the Sundarbans, including being predators, prey, pollinators and seed dispersers.

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