Alexa Sundarbans; a serene beauty

Sundarbans; a serene beauty

Salahuddin Ahmeddaily-bangladesh.com

Published: 22:17 8 September 2019   Updated: 22:48 8 September 2019

File Photo

File Photo

Sundarbans is one of the most natural beauties of beautiful Bangladesh. This Forest is the largest mangrove forest in the world. Sundarban is a large block of littoral forests. The beauty lies in its unique natural surroundings.

Thousands of meandering streams, creeks, rivers and have enhanced its charm. For miles, the lofty treetops form an unbroken canopy, while nearer the ground, works of high and ebb-tide marked on the soil and the many varieties of the natural mangrove forest have much to offer to an inquisitive visitor.

Location

Sundarbans is in southwest part of Bangladesh, in the district of greater Khulna. The mangrove forest covers an area of about 10,000 square kilometers (3,900 sq mi). Of which, forests in Bangladesh's Khulna Division extend over 6,017 square kilometers  (2,323 sq mi) and in West Bengal. They extend over 4,260 square kilometers. Sundarbans is in southwest part of Bangladesh, in the district of greater Khulna. India shares around 40% of the forest with Bangladesh. The western portion lies in India and the rest in (about 60%) Bangladesh.

The Sundarbans are a part of the world's largest delta formed by the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna. About one-third of the total area of this forest is covered by river channels, canals, and tidal creeks that vary in width from a few meters to five kilometers. The Bangladesh side is dominated by high mangroves with a climate that is tropical maritime, with lots of rain during the monsoon. During the winter it is mild and dry.

History of Sundarbans

The Sundarbans was originally measured (about 200 years ago) to be of about 16,700 sq km. Now it has dwindled to about 1/3 of the original size.

The history of the area can be traced back to 200–300 AD. The name Sundarban can be literally translated as "beautiful forest" in the Bengali language. The Bangla word ‘ban’ means forest. The word ‘Sundar’ may have been derived from the ‘Sundari’ trees (the mangrove species Heritiera fomes) means of beautiful that are found in Sundarbans in large numbers.

Alternatively, it has been proposed that the name is Samudraban, (Sea Forest), or Chandra-bandhe (name of a primitive tribe) which was corrupted into Sundarbans.

During the Mughal period, the Mughal Kings leased the forests of the Sundarbans to nearby residents. Many criminals took refuge in the Sundarbans from the advancing armies of Emperor Akbar. Many have been known to be attacked by tigers.

Many of the buildings which were built by them later fell to hands of Portuguese pirates, salt smugglers and dacoits in the 17th century.

The area was mapped first in Persian, by the Surveyor General as early as 1769 following soon after proprietary rights were obtained from the Mughal Emperor Alamgir II by the British East India Company in 1757.

Systematic management of this forest tract started in the 1860s after the establishment of a Forest Department in the Province of Bengal, in British India. The first Forest Management Division to have jurisdiction over the Sundarbans was established in 1869. In 1875 a large portion of the mangrove forests was declared as reserved forests under the Forest Act, 1865 (Act VIII of 1865).

Sundarbans have been declared as three wildlife sanctuaries and came under the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.

Weather of Sundarbans

The Sundarbans is a World Heritage Site which consists of three wildlife sanctuaries (Sundarbans West, East and South) lying on disjunction deltaic islands in the Sundarbans Forest Division of Khulna District, close to the border with India. The annual relative humidity varies from 70-80%.The mean annual rainfall in the region with 80% probably varies from about 2000mm in the east and 1600mm in the west. The average temperature is about 31.3 degree Celsius.

Faunal diversity

The mangrove ecosystem is more dynamic, unique and complex. The fauna is environmentally interacted in the process of ecosystem. At least as per go knowledge 42 species of mammal among them 25 important mammalian species are known to occur in the Sundarbans and its adjacent area. The present number of the Royal Bengal Tiger in the Sundarban is nearly 180. Royal Bengal Tiger is like a king of the mangrove forest.

The varied and colorful bird-life to be seen along its waterways is one of the Sundarbans' greatest attractions. A total 315 species have been recorded, including about 95 species of waterfowl and 38 species of raptors. Among the many which may be readily seen by the visitor are no less than nine species of kingfisher, including brown-winged and stork-billed kingfishers, also the have rarer grey-headed fish eagle.

Of about 53 reptile species have been recorded. The largest member in the Sundarbans is the estuarine crocodile some of which may attain a length of about seven meters. Although once they were abundant in this mangrove habitat, their total number is now estimated to be around 250. Species of lizards, including the Monitor Lizards Varanus, turtles, and snakes are well-represented. Among the snakes, the King Cobra, Russell's viper, Rock python, Banded Krait and several species of sea snakes are notable.

The green frog is mostly observed in Chandpai area of the mangrove forest. The other forest amphibians include the Skipper frog, Cricket frog, Tree frog, and the common toad.

Only eight species of amphibians have been reported from the Sundarbans. The green frog is mostly observed in Chandpai area of the mangrove forest. The other forest amphibians include the Skipper frog, Cricket frog, Tree frog, and the common toad.

The Sundarbans supports nearly 400 species of fishes in its varied aquatic habitats; these include both the pelagic and demersal fishes. Many species use these habitats as nursery grounds. No aquaculture or fish farming is allowed in the Sundarbans. The Forest Department controls the fish catch from the area.

Among the invertebrates some molluscs and crustaceans constitute important fisheries resources. About 20 species of shrimps, 8 species of lobsters, 7 species of crabs, several species of gastropods, and 6 species of pelecypods have been reported from the Sundarbans

Floral diversity

The vegetation is largely of mangrove type and encompasses a variety of plants including trees, shrubs, grasses, epiphytes, and lianas. Being mostly evergreen, they possess more or less similar physiological and structural adaptations. The prominent species is Sundari and Gewa.

In the Sundarbans, the saltwater forest is situated in the south-western part where Gewa, Goran, Keora, Ora, Passur, Dhundul Bain, and other rhizophores, and Hantal dominate. The typical mangrove species dominate the central part of the forest. The moderate saltwater forest covers most of the southern parts of Khulna and Bagerhat districts where Sundari is the dominant species.


 

The recorded flora of Sundarbans 334 species under 245 genera. Of these 17 are pteridophytes, 87 monocotyledons and the rest are cotyledons. The plant species include 35 legumes, 29 grasses, 19 sedges, and 18 euphorbias. Of the 50 true mangrove plant species recorded, the Sundarbans alone contain 35. Almost all mangrove plant species are evergreen, dwarf, shrubby or tall trees, and grow gregariously without leaving any space on the floor.

There is a thick mat of the nipa palm or 'Golpata' by the side of almost all the canals. The moderately freshwater zone results from the large amount of water which flows down the Passur, Haringhata and Burisher, maintaining the surface water at a lower level of salinity.

The Sundarbans shows some distinct phyto-succession, where the newly formed lands are occupied by some pioneer species viz Larisa hexandra, wild rice followed by Avicennia, Sonneratia and Aegiceras.

The secondary succession occurs due to Ceriops, Excoecaria, Bruguiera, Heritiera, Xylocarpus and Rhizophora. Tigers fern mostly covers the ground floor, which is common in saltwater and moderately saltwater zones. Tigers use these bushes to camouflage themselves.

Economy

The Sundarbans plays an important role in the economy of the southwestern region of Bangladesh as well as in the national economy. It is the single largest source of forest produce in the country. The forest provides raw materials for wood-based industries.

In addition to traditional forest produce like timber, fuelwood, pulpwood etc. large-scale harvest of non-wood forest products such as thatching materials, honey, beeswax, fish, crustacean and mollusk resources of the forest takes place regularly.

The vegetated tidal lands of the Sundarbans function as an essential habitat produces nutrients and purifies water. The forest also traps nutrient and sediment, acts as a storm barrier, shore stabiliser and energy storage unit. Last but not the least, the Sunderbans provides an aesthetic attraction for local and foreign tourists.

A number of industries (newsprint mill, match factory, hardboard, boat building, furniture making) are based on raw materials obtained from the Sundarbans ecosystem. Non-timber forest products and plantations help generate considerable employment and income opportunities for at least half a million poor coastal people. It provides natural protection to life and properties of the coastal population in cyclone-prone Bangladesh.

Popular culture in Sundarban

The Sundarbans is celebrated through numerous Bengali folk songs and dances, often centered on the folk heroes, gods and goddesses specific to the Sundarbans (like Bonbibi and Dakshin Rai). The Lower Gangetic Delta (like Manasa and Chand Sadagar). The Bengali folk epic Manasamangal mentions Netidhopani and has some passages set in the Sundarbans during the heroine Behula's quest to bring her husband Lakhindar back to life.

Best things to do in Sundarban

Sundarban has many tourist spots for observing its beauty but you have to go there on boat. For not just the Bangladeshi travellers but international tourists as well, the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Sundarbans holds an unparalleled charm mainly because of its mysterious ambiance and rich wildlife. Perhaps one of the most-liked tourist places in Bangladesh.Most popular spots are-

Hiron Point

The most tourist interesting point is Hiron Point and also known as Nilkamal. Here you will found  Royal Bengal Tiger, Monkeys, Crocodiles, Birds and Natural beauty of the forest.

Katka

In Katka, you can observe many wild animals like tigers, deer, varieties of birds and different types of monkeys.

Dublar Char Island

Dublar Char is another spot that you see many fishermen are busy for catching fish. Dublar Char offers unique experience to see the fishing. Visitors can also see here wild animals and beauty of nature. The people who love writing, painting and nature this land provide them extreme beauty.

Tin Kona Island

This also a popular tourist spot and this Island main attraction is Tiger and Deer. Tin Kona Island is called ‘Three-cornered Island’. This is a place where your mind becomes fresh.

DailyBangladesh/Sohug