Saturday, May 25, 2024

Sunderbans and its Rich Wildlife

Written By Prisha Jain (Grade 6)

Sundarbans is a mangrove area, in the delta of the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers in the Bay of Bengal. It is in West Bengal. It is land used for agriculture. It is covered in mangrove forests and barren lands. Multiple tidal streams intersect near it. It has very rich wildlife including both flora and fauna. It has one twenty species of fish, two ninety birds, forty-five mammals, thirty-five reptiles and eight amphibians. In wildlife, it is most famous for its tigers. There are four protected areas in Sundarbans which are on the lists of UNESCO.

Despite these protections, Sundarbans is declining rapidly. Even though the government has promised to prevent this decline it is still happening. In 2007, there was a cyclone Sidr that happened in Sundarbans. It caused major damage by damaging 40 per cent of the forest. The forest is also declining due to the rise in sea levels which caused an increase in salinity. In 2009 in May the cyclone Alia caused a lot of deaths. 

Sundarbans is a beautiful place. It has 4 major religions there. For tourism, the most popular attraction is boating. People can rent a boathouse and go on an awesome tour following the banks of Sundarbans. They can stop at various tourist sights and see many animals like the royal Bengal tiger, monkeys or otters, maybe even deer. You can see dance programmes, visit museums. There is also a place where you can hold snakes or wrap them around your neck. Sundarbans is so much fun. 

A fun fact is that we can only travel around 40 per cent of Sundarbans without a visa. The other portion or 60 per cent of Sundarbans is located in Bangladesh thus resulting in the need for a visa. In Sundarbans, there are mudflats revealed only during low tide. During high tide, they are covered in water. There are one hundred and two islands on Sundarbans but only fifty-two are inhabited. 

The Munda are an ethnic community in Sundarbans. They made it their permanent home around three hundred years ago. They lived in Sundarbans ever since. They are found in Khulna, Jessore and in Shyamanagar Upazila, along with Joypurhat. They live in the Sundarbans mangrove forest and depend on the natural ecosystem on the natural ecosystem for their livelihoods. The Munda community have their own special culture. But they are on the very brink of being forgotten. They follow a mix of various religions. They also have a god called Sing Bonga which means sun spirit. They are divided into seven clans following their respective ancestors. The Tuti clan is under the impression that they are descended from the Sundari tree, whereas the Baghor clan claims their ancestor to be a tiger. The clan totem is sacred to all members. It is used in festivals and events. They also believe in ghosts and spirits. They use them in healing and destroying. They are excellent at weaving. They catch fish, cut wood, honey, etc, for a livelihood. They speak Naguri a dialect of the Mundari language. Their dance is called Nupur. It is very rustic relating to everyday events.

Far in a small city, in a temple, in a protected area stands Bonbibi. Everyday citizens offer offerings and do puja for the goddess who protects them before going to their respective jobs. But Bonbibi only protects them if they take only the necessary things from the forest. She is the goddess of the forest. Worshipped devotedly by the residents of Sundarbans. This is how her tale goes. Bonbibi and her brother were fighting for a part of the Sundarbans’ forest. Dakshin-Ray whom they were fighting took form as a tiger. He captured a boy whom Bonbibi saved. Ever since people worship her to protect them from tiger attacks.

Due to the extreme climate, four to five super-cyclones have occurred. They will continuously increase as sea pressure continuously rises and climate change continues to loom over the world like an ever raining dark cloud which gives way to the winds of change and destruction to sweep countries. This is the super extreme and tense climate of Sundarbans.

The number of tigers in Sundarbans is rapidly declining. We need to act fast and preserve them. Such a big part of India’s culture will be lost if we don’t act. It will be heartbreaking if further generations don’t live to see the culture and heritage of Sundarbans. It is already fading.

Featured Image Courtesy – Sunderban National Park

Prisha Jain
Prisha Jain
Hi, I am Prisha. I am 10 years old. I live in Mumbai. I am avid reader and I love to write. I started writing last year. I study in the school V.C.W Arya Vidya Mandir Bandra (E). I study in grade 5. Besides reading and writing, I like painting and drawing.


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