Sunderban Wildlife, Calcutta
The rivers Ganga and Hoogly divide itself
into many distibutaries towards the south of Calcutta. As
it is about to merge into the sea the speed of water is reduced
and the river deposits its silt. In due course, on the mouth
of the rivers the accumulated silt takes the shape of islands.
These are the famous Gangetic deltas. They provide an ideal
environment and atmosphere for the Sundari trees to grow.
Spread over an area of almost 10,000 sq kms (now shared by
Bangladesh and India), they are home to many exquisite animals
and birds. The area of 1330 sq kms has been declared as a
national park by Indian Government.
The variety of the flora and fauna makes the pristine beauty
of nature come to life. The Fleming Red flowers of Genwa,
the crab like red flower of Khalsi add to the dazzling display
of nature. This 'fairyland' is made fascinating by the millions
of micro organism found on the fringes of the islands.
This area, once, was a paradise for tiger hunters. Tiger poaching
was declared illegal by the government due to rapid fall in
the Royal Bengal Tiger population and the area came under
the Project Tiger. Tigers in Sunderbans is known to swim a
record distance of 10 kms. They also hunt fish if hungry or
steal honey from the bee hives. Though Sunderban tigers are
described as man-eaters, specialists say they rarely attack
human beings. Tigers are not the only attraction in Sunderbans,
there are estuarine crocodiles and shy jungle cats or the
fishing cats. The reptiles found in the forest includes the
King Cobra, Rock Python and Water Monitor.
The olive ridley turtles descend to nest the shores of Kanak
island, during the winters. The tigers can be easily spotted
at the water holes at Sajnekhali, Sudhanyakhali, Netidhopani
and Haldi. No permission is required for a general river cruise
outside the core area and sanctuary . But there are particular
places where permission will be required.
The best time to visit Sunderbans is during
winters between September and March. There are regular bus
services from Calcutta to this place. But the main areas of
the sanctuary can only be accessed only by riverine waterways.
The best and the safest way to visit Sunderbans is on conducted
tours. One can also avail the services of the private vessels
from Canning, Gosaba or Basanti. Accommodation in the sanctuary
is available, in the comfortable tourist lodges. Sajnekahli
has a 60 bed tourist lodge. Overnight facilities are also
available at Bakkhali and Piyali.