FLORA OF SUNDERBANS:
mostly comprises of mangrove forests. Mangroves are salt-tolerant plants occurring
in the tropical and sub-tropical intertidal estuarine regions, sheltered coastline
and tidal creeks. Sunderbans are the largest mangrove reserve in the world. The
specialties of mangrove plants are that they are inundated by salt water during
high tides. Hence to adapt to these adverse situation the plants develop negatively
geotropic breathing roots which occurs vertically from the ground. These roots
are known as pneumatophores. There are more than 80 species of mangrove in Sunderbans
including the mangrove associates and the true mangrove species.Some
of the common mangroves are listed below:
FAUNA OF SUNDERBANS:|
Sunderban has rich
faunal diversity. Nature in its pristine form exists here. The mangrove forests
of Sunderban consist of a complex eco-system. Sunderban is rich in wildlife. It
is mainly because the forests of Sunderban is protected by the government and
hence it is more or less undisturbed especially the core area.
Sunderbans provide ideal habitat to a number of species. Some of important animals
of the Sunderbans are listed below.
BENGAL TIGER (Panthera tigris tigris)
The Bengal tiger is the national
animal of India. The Sunderbans is the single largest home of the Bengal tiger.
It is the icon species of Sunderbans and of India. At present there are
about 250-300 tigers in Sunderban. This is the nominate species of the
eight sub-species of tigers found in the world. Tigers are the apex predators
of this mangrove eco-system. They are right at the top of the food chain. The
Sunderban tigers are extraordinary beasts. Perfectly at home both on land and
water, it is known to cross more than one river at time to find food. Whether
the Sunderban tigers have well marked territory is still a debatable issue. However
it seems that the tiger is ready to explore new territory in order to find food
and shelter. This unfortunately brings it in conflict with human being as the
tiger enters village to prey on livestock mainly due to shortage of food. However
people are less susceptible to tiger attacks in inhabited areas than those who
enter tiger territory in the forest. No doubt this top predator is full of mysteries.
The Sunderban tiger preys mainly on cheetal or spotted deer, wild boar, goats
and livestock. It is a nocturnal and ambush predator.
However the tiger is
rarely seen even by the experts. This is because of the perfect camouflage of
the tiger and the dense mangrove swamps forms a formidable fortress in which the
tiger rules supreme.
On the whole it may be said that the Sunderban tigers
differs from tigers of the other parts of the world in many ways than one. And
there is a lot to be studied about this illusive beast.
" JUNGLE CAT
This is a stout bodied cat found in Sunderbans. A nocturnal
animal which preys on small animals. This cat is often met with in Sunderbans.
It is a good climber and an ambush predator.
" LEOPARD CAT(Felis bengalensis)
cat is an agile climber and a good swimmer. It preys on birds, bats, hares and
" FISHING CAT (Prionailurus viverrina)
This is a powerfully
built cat. It is a nocturnal predator and an expert swimmer. It is known to dive
in water to catch fish hence the name. It also preys on small and medium size
animals such as wild pigs and cheetal fawns.
" WILD BOAR (Sus scrofa)
This animal is often seen in Sunderbans. This is a heavily built animal. It is
basically a herbivore but is also known to take small animals, insects and even
carrion. This animal also acts as a prey species for the tiger.
CHEETAL OR SPOTTED DEER (Axis axis)
This is the only deer found in Sunderban.
It is also the most common deer in India. It is a herbivore. This animal is the
major prey for the tigers. It is commonly seen near water holes.
COMMON OTTER (Lutra lutra)
This is the species of otter found in Sunderbans.
It is found in water bodies like rivers and tidal creeks. It is omnivorous but
feeds mainly on fish.
ESTUARINE CROCODILE (Crocodylus porosus)
This is another species which
is critically endangered due to poaching and loss of habitat. However this is
an animal commonly seen in Sunderbans. It is often seen in rivers, tidal creeks
and mud banks basking in the sun. This is a large sized reptile. Like the Bengal
tiger it is a fearsome predator. It is nocturnal. It is another ambush hunter.
Although it feeds mainly on fish and crabs it is also known to bring down sufficiently
" WATER MONITOR LIZARD (Varanus salvator)
is the largest lizard in India and one of the largest in the world. In Sunderbans
it is easily seen inhabiting the water holes. They have a bulky body and move
like miniature dinosaurs. They have a stout tail which they use for self defense.
They also have sharp teeth and claws to tear flesh. This is an oppertunatunistic
species and prey on fishes, frogs, small mammals, crustaceans, snakes and eggs.
They also feed on carrion.
" KING COBRA (Ophiophagus hannah)
is snake which is quite rare but found in Sunderbans. This is the largest venomous
snake in the world growing to over 18 feet in length. It is a venomous reptile
but very few people are actually bitten by the king cobra. So human fatalities
are rare. It produces huge amount of venom. The staple food of this species of
snakes is other snakes. It has a hood which is narrower than the typical cobra.
MONOCELLATE COBRA (Naja kaouthia)
It is a common snake of Sunderbans.
It is venomous. It is nocturnal and prey on rodents mainly, frogs, toads. It is
also known to swallow eggs. It is easy to identify as it has a distinct hood which
possesses a disc shaped mark on the back."
COMMON RAT SNAKE (Ptyas mucosus)
This is a common snake of India and of
Sunderbans. It is non-venomous. It is commonly seen in agricultural fields, forests
and in haystacks. This is a snake which seems to benefit from human proximity.
Although known as the rat snake it also takes frogs, toads, small birds and even
other snakes besides rodents.
" COMMON KRAIT (Bungarus caeruleus)
is the most venomous snake in India. This is strictly nocturnal snake. It feeds
mainly on snakes.
" BLACK CAPPED KINGFISHER (Halcyon pileata)
is a common bird of the Sunderbans. Seen frequently on river banks. It feeds mainly
on fish and crabs.
" GOLIATH HERON (Ardea goliath)
bird of Sunderbans is huge in appearance. It is a solitary creature. It feeds
mainly on fish and frogs.
" LESSER ADJUTANT STORK (Leptoptilos javanicus)
solitary. Feeds on fish, frogs and reptiles.
" BRAMHINY KITE (Haliastur
This is a raptor which is often found besides water bodies such
as lakes, pools, ponds and rivers. It feeds on fish, frogs, snakes, small mammals
In addition to this sunderban has few species of sharks the most
common being the Indian Dog shark (Scoliodon laticaudus). There are also
dolphins to be found in Sunderbans the most common being the Gangetic dolphin
There are also turtles to be found in Sunderban
like the River Terrapin (Batagur baska) and marine turtles like Olive
ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olvacea) , Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas),
Hawksbill Turtle (Eritmochelys olivacea).
Among Crustaceans one
can see the fiddler crab, hermit crab, mud crab and the king crab.