Sundarbans Tiger Reserve
Sunderbans, world's largest delta and mangrove forest with vast saline mudflats, is situated in the lower end of the Ganjetic West Bengal. A land of some 55 tiny islands, crisscrossed by innumerable tributaries of Ganga and Matla, that was once infested by Arakanese and Portuguese pirates is now the abode of varied flora and fauna population. The only mangrove tigerland in the world, where 70% is under saline water makes the life of commoners, mostly honey-collectors, prawn-catchers and fishermen very difficult. This mangrove forest has about 64 species of plants. The amphibious tiger population, which is estimated to be over 260 here, has distinct behavior, which makes them different from the other tiger of the country. The core area of Sunderbans is also conserved as 'World Heritage Site' as designated by IUCN in the year of 1989.The Royal Bengal Tiger is the lord of this forest and it occupies the pinnacle of both terrestrial and aquatic web.
There are also Cheetal, Wild Boar, Rhesus Macaque, and Fishing Cat etc. The creeks of Sunderbans form the home of world's largest Estuarine Crocodile, the only surviving member of Jurrasic time. The aquatic fauna includes Irrawady Dolphine, River Terrapin (Batagur Baska), Olive Ridley Turtle, and different species of Crabs, Prawns, Lobsters and Fishes. To add colours and melody there are 230 odd birds species. It is the place to see the seven species of kingfishers namely Common, Brown-winged, Ruddy, Stork-billed, Black-capped, Collared and Pied Kingfisher. Some of the other birds are Red Junglefowl, Lesser Whistling-duck, Great Egret, Lesser Adjutant, Streak-throated Woodpecker, Coppersmith Barbet, Green Bee-eater, Bronze Drongo, Small Minivet, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Orange-breasted Green Pigeon, Whimbrel, Eurasian Curlew, Common Redshank, Terek Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Grey-headed Lapwing, Whiskered Tern, Osprey, Brahminy Kite, White-bellied Fish Eagle, Goliath Heron, Purple Heron etc.
People of Sunderbans worship Tiger as "Lord of South", the richly ornamented 'Dakshin Roy' who is said to own all the wealth of the Sunderbans. 'Dakshin Roy' is believed to share his land and wealth with 'Bonobibi'. Hindus and Muslims gather at common shrine to worship both the deities. Sunderbans is open round the year for visitors.
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