The Sundarbans Fact file
L- R: Mangrove forests of Sundarbans; Sundarbans - the
Royal Bengal Tiger's habitat
Photo source: L-R unesco.org; news.bbc.co.uk
The Sundarbans of Bangladesh have been declared a Natural
World Heritage site. One of the few existing biologically productive natural
ecosystems of the world, the Sundarbans are also the world’s largest
mangrove forest. A significant part of the Sundarbans lies in India, where
it has been designated The Sundarbans National Park, also a World Heritage
Site. The Bangladesh side of the Sundarbans consists of three wildlife
sanctuaries – Sundarbans East, West, and South – on the deltaic islands
of Khulna district. The forests and waterways of Sundarbans support a wide
spectrum of natural life – some close to extinction. No hunting is allowed
within the forests.
cover approximately 10,000 sq.km of land and water.
The total area of the Bangladesh Sundarbans is 5,771sq.km (almost 62
percent of the total) – the remaining area is in India,
are a part of the world's largest delta
(80,000sq.km) formed by sediments brought down by three great
rivers, the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna
a distinctive feature of the Sundarbans is the
intricate network of interconnecting water channels. Some of these
channels can exceed a mile in width.
the rainfall and humidity are both high. Most of the
rainfall is during the Monsoon season from June to October.
It is the world’s largest mangrove forest
It supports a spectacular wildlife both in terms of
numbers and variety – though many species are on the verge of
The Sundarbans are home to:
49 species of mammals, including Javan rhinoceros, water
buffalo, Ganges river dolphin, swamp deer, gaur, hog deer, spotted deer,
wild boar, otter, wild cat, and tiger.
315 species of birds including the white-bellied
sea-eagle, raptors, waterfowl, kingfisher, grey-headed fish eagle
Herons, egrets, sandpipers, curlew, and storks. The forest birds found
here include woodpeckers, barbets, shrikes, drongos, mynahs, minivets,
53 species of reptiles and eight of amphibians that
include crocodiles, monitors, Indian python, turtle, King cobra, and
120 species of fish including mud-skippers and gobys.
Shrimps, prawns, lobsters, and crabs are found in abundance. Bull
sharks, Sandbar shark, tiger shark, Hammerheads, stingray, anchovy are
found as well.
an insect population including honey- bees.
The deltaic islands were once inhabited by humans,
as shown by archaeological evidence. These human settlements did not
survive beyond the 17th century.
Sundarbans provide livelihood to approximately
300,000 people who work as fishermen, wood-cutters, and gather
honey, leaves (for roofing), and grass (for matting). Approximately
2.5 million people live in the surrounding villages.
The Bangladeshi and Indian officials are working together
to protect the ecology of Sundarbans. The threat to its unique fauna and
flora requires more cross-border cooperation. The fact that Sundarbans
span both countries , does not mean that it has to be managed as two
entities. The officials in India and Bangladesh are considering
managing it as a single eco-system. Sundarbans need to be protected from
pollution, and human encroachment.