Prasanna Sriya: My Recent Visit to the World’s Largest Mangrove Ecosystem: The Hoogly-Matla Estuary (Indian Sunderbans)
Dr. Prasanna Sriya is a dentist from Chennai, India. She writes on Wildlife and related issues, as well as short and simple poems for children.
The Sunderbans are believed to have evolved over a period of 6,000 yrs. The Bengal Delta was originally occupied by vast stretches of grassland filled with saline marshes and tropical wetlands containing one of the worlds’ largest stretches of biodiversity-rich forests – the Bengalian Rainforest. These forests were one of the richest wildlife areas of the world, holding elephants, tiger, gaur, leopards, wild buffaloes, three species of rhinoceros, seven species of deer, and a wide variety of other fauna.
Our guide Vikas talked about the Sunderbans, its struggle, its population, and its wild life with great passion. The word Sunderbans in Sanskrit and literally means Sunder – Beautiful; Bans – Vanam (forest in English). It has about 102 islands, some of which are so difficult to approach that it still remains unexplored and unexploited by humans.
The most important aspect is that the total area is 26,000 square kilometers, making it the single largest stretch of mangrove vegetation in the world. India has about 9,630 square kilometers total, and about 4,263 square kilometers of that is the reserve forest.
The Sunderbans National Park was declared as a biosphere reserve and a World Heritage Site by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and UNESCO.
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