The approximately 6000 km² large protected area is located in the delta of the Ganges, the Brahmaputra and the Meghna in the border area with India. The Sundarbans form the largest contiguous mangrove jungle on earth. The huge tidal forest is a paradise for plants and animals. It is the habitat of the endangered Bengal tiger.
Sundarbans Mangrove Forests: Facts
|Official title:||Mangrove forests of the Sundarbans|
|Natural monument:||that part of Bangladesh with an area of 5950 km², including Sundarbans National Park (1330.10 km²), Sundarbans East, West and South, initially declared a forest reserve in 1878 and a nature reserve since 1977; Part of one of the world’s largest deltas (80,000 km²), humidity 80% and heavy rainfall in the monsoon season with an annual average of up to 2790 mm|
|Location:||in the Ganges delta region, Brahmaputra and Meghna, on the border with India|
|Meaning:||one of the world’s largest mangrove populations|
|Flora and fauna:||334 plant species, including mangrove species such as Heritiera fomes and Ecoecaria agallocha; 49 species of mammals such as the partially locally exterminated Gaur, pig deer, Barasingha, also Bengal tiger (estimated 270 animals), axis deer, Indian otter (estimated up to 20,000 animals), raw cat, Ganges dolphin; 315 species of birds such as white-bellied and bald eagles; 53 species of reptiles, including Saltwater crocodile, white monitor monitor, king cobra, tiger python and spectacled snake, as well as 120 species of fish|
Where King Tigers roam between land and sea
When the water level sinks and reveals the subsoil at low tide, the King Tiger sets off. Between asparagus-like structures, the breathing roots of the mangroves, which rise from the air-impermeable silt, he makes his way through his territory. Meanwhile, crabs are bustling across the muddy ground, and mudskippers, fish about twelve centimeters long, climb down from tree trunks onto the dry, falling mudflats. There they immediately begin to rummage through the soft layer of silt for food with their frog-like heads like little bulldozers. Numerous shell molluscs settle on the trunks of the elegant Sundri trees – the mangrove forests of Bangladesh were named after them. According to youremailverifier, colorful butterflies flutter around the yellowish flower heads of the salt-resistant mangrove trees Avicennia officinalis, which spread a very intense fragrance. Most mangrove seeds germinate on the parent tree: Brown, spherical seeds hang from the branches of the Rhizophora, which have formed a spear-shaped, hard root, so that they are finished cuttings when they fall into the silt.
And above everything lies the shadow of a powerful and feared sneak, who is also out and about at night and always looking for cover, although as the largest big cat on the Indian subcontinent, he hardly has any enemies. One of his last retreats lies in the world’s largest connected mangrove swamps between the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers.
In this inaccessible tidal zone, the habitats of land and sea are intertwined. Numerous species of fish use the root labyrinth on the edge of the tidal channels as a spawning area and nursery. Dozens of species of fish are regularly fished from the brackish tidal creeks by fishermen. Trained Indian otters are their loyal helpers as they drive the fish into the nets.
For thousands of years people have followed the advance of the mangroves into the sea with their pile dwelling settlements, and the lives of the people are closely linked to that of the rest of the residents of the mangroves. There are constant dangers lurking in the undergrowth: The huge saltwater crocodiles, which force their way through the mighty tangle of roots, wait on the banks for prey animals that have their watering facilities here, and every now and then snap at people who draw water there. These “monsters” are just as feared as the king tiger, which here has the reputation of being an ogre. Often he fell victim to woodcutters year after year when they collected palm leaves for the roofs of houses or cut wood for the construction of boats and houses. Before entering the marshland, they summoned the goddess Durga and asked for protection from the tigers or symbolically demarcated the territory of the tigers by setting up flags. They put deterrent masks on the back of their heads so that the tiger, who shrinks from an open attack and prefers to ambush its prey, would not dare to approach them. As the number of “striped hunters” fell sharply until the 1990s due to poaching and the destruction of forests, the risk of being struck down by a fatal blow gradually decreased.
The deforestation of the mangrove forests resulted in the loss of the natural protection of the inland from the regular monsoon storms and storm surges. Some animal species have almost been exterminated, but their populations have been increasing again since the establishment of the national park: the shy Ridley sea turtle is returning to their habitats between land and sea. White-tailed eagles soar in the air, while the mighty jungle cattle, the Gaur, push their way through the thick wood. And when the bottom disappears under the incoming sea water at high tide, the forest appears to be swimming and the fish move to where the axis deer and the short-legged, plump hog deer have grazed a few hours before.