In the mangrove and forest of the Sunderbans, which means ‘The Beautiful Forest’, you can catch a glimpse of the fast disappearing Royal Bengal Tiger.
Straddling the border between Bengal and Bangladesh, where the great Ganges meets the Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers on their way to the Bay of Bengal, lies the Sundarbans -one of the last places to see the magnificent Royal Bengal Tiger.
The Sundarban National Park
Literally translated ‘Sundarbans’ means “the beautiful forest.” It’s an intricate network of mangroves that is one of the most extensive forests of its kind in the world.
The area is made up of three sanctuaries (Sundarbans West, South, and East) with a total area of 140,000 hectares. This is an area of almost surreal natural beauty characterized by mangrove forests, swamps, and densely forested islands. Snaking through them a network of small rivers, filled to bursting point with wildlife are Sundarbans.
Wildlife of Sunderban National Park
There is plenty to peer at through the trees and down in the depths. Keep a sharp eye out for the estuarine crocodiles that can be found lounging on the mud banks or skimming along the surface. Here also, the curious looking mud skipper flaps about and blinks its ridiculous eyes at passers-by. The park is noted as the conservation of the rare, Ridley sea turtle. At low tide, fiddler crabs emerge from their caves to dance on the sand and show off their bright red claws. Dolphins patrol the deeper channels and make the most of the abundance of fish. Most visitors to the area also use these watery highways to explore this stunning area and the treasures it holds. There are tourist ferries on hand to help you on your journey.
The Royal Bengal Tiger
The real prize here for those who venture far enough is a creature so magnificent that makes it one of its own kind. The Royal Bengal Tiger is not an easy animal to spot, and in any case, it’s one to keep a safe distance from, but to see one is a rare treat indeed. The mangrove forests of Bengal and Bangladesh and the water that surrounds them are home to a combined population of nearly 400 Tigers (a number which incidentally is disputed by protection groups).
These cunning cats have adapted themselves to this watery environment and are such good swimmers that they lead a practically amphibious life. One of the biggest of ‘Big Cats’ has an extremely bold color and a striking pattern that serves as very effective camouflage. Unfortunately, there is a high price tag on this very special fur that’s led to a sharp decline in numbers and a long battle against a dedicated team of poachers. The Sundarbans are one of the last preserves for this magnificent feline and should be treated with the greatest respect.
To get a chance of glimpsing a tiger, one must drift quietly among the trees. Let yourself be distracted by the monkeys overhead, spotted deer, jungle fowl, wild boar, and giant lizards as you go.
Local Fishermen And Their Believes
Local fishermen also move quietly across the water casting their nets for the rich fishy bounty. Nearer to the end of the delta there are places where it is possible to come ashore for a spot of exploring on foot when the tide is out. This is not something to be undertaken lightly. Tribes of honey gatherers who live in the forest have a belief that the giant, saline water drinking Royal Bengal Tigers always attack from the rear and so they wear masks on the backs of their heads when they venture from their villages. Visitors are always accompanied by a posse of armed policemen, just to be on the safe side. And hey, why to risk being eaten by a tiger?
Best Time To Visit
The climate in Bangladesh is hot and tropical with a monsoon season from April to October when temperatures are at their highest. The cold season is between November and March, and this is probably the most comfortable time to explore this wonderful country.