National Park, India,
hectares (core) and 88,527 hectares (buffer).
: 1973 as a tiger reserve, 1978 as a national park.
Some believe that the name Sunderbans is derived from
'Sundri' - a plant found in the local mangroves - and 'bans' meaning
forest. Others believe the name means 'beautiful forest' ('sunder'
= beautiful, and 'bans' = forest). The Sunderbans, extending
over an area of 1,000,000 hectares, is the
world's largest delta, formed by the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghana
rivers. The region has extensive mangrove forests and the contours
are in a constant state of flux, caused by the monsoon flooding
each year. Roughly a third of the delta is water, consisting of
rivers, channels and tidal creeks up to 5 kilometers wide. The
Sunderbans falls both within the India and Bangladesh, the latter
having the larger share of the delta. On the Indian side there
is a national park overlooking the Bay of Bengal.
Sunderbans West, South and East wildlife sanctuaries
in Bangladesh are also at the southern extremities of the delta.
The Sunderbans parks are covered in mangrove forests of
which there are 3 main
zones, depending on the level of salt in the soil and water a
freshwater zone, a moderately saline zone, and a saline zone.
Fishing, timber extraction and honey collection are the main human
activities allowed within the Sunderbans. The four Sunderbans
national parks have been lumped together as they all share
common features of the estuarine mangrove ecosystem. The main
attractions of the Sunderbans are the Tiger, of
which the delta harbor large reptiles like the Monitor Lizard,
Estuarine Crocodile and the Olive Ridley Turtle, for which there
is a conservation programme in the Indian park. The Leopard,
Indian Rhinoceros, Javan Rhinoceros, Swamp Deer, Hog Deer and
Water Buffalo have all become locally extinct from the delta in
The best time to visit Sunderbans is during winters between
September and March.
The Sunderbans are not easily accessible. To get to
the Sunderbans national park in India the nearest
airport is Calcutta, the nearest railway station is Canning, and
the nearest town is Gosaba. From the park headquarters at Canning
take the country motor launch (5 hours) to Sajnekhali.
are regular bus services from Kolkata (Calcutta) to this place.
But the main areas of the sanctuary can only be accessed 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.