The Sunderbans is the worlds largest delta, formed by the estuaries of the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers as they pour into the Bay of Bengal. This sanctuary extends over 2,585 km and extends to India's neighbour Bangladesh. This is also the world's largest estuarine sanctuary.
Named after the "Sundari tree" which grows on the islands and sand bars of the Sunderbans, the sanctuary is home to a population of royal Bengal Tigers, many of which are believed to be man-eaters. The absence of other large prey species, such as deer has driven the tiger to prey on the fishermen, hunters and honey gatherers who live in the Sunderbans. In a year, tigers attack an average of 40 people. Preventive measures such as dummies that look like humans, which are wired with electricity, and give tigers a shock when they pounce on the dummy, have proved effective. All visitors to the Sunderbans sanctuary are now accompanied by a group of armed guards.
Other fascinating creatures seen in the Sunderbans are Gangetic dolphins, estuarine crocodiles, Olive Ridley Turtles, water monitor lizards and many species of water birds, fish and tidal dwellers. The Sajnekhali bird sanctuary is also part of the Sunderbans nature reserve. The sanctuary has a heronry, crocodile enclosure, shark pond and turtle hatchery. It also has a mangrove research centre, where the unique plants of this estuarine environment are studied.
Accommodation inside the park is available at the tourist lodge in Sajnekhali. The lodge is built on stilts - to keep hungry tigers at a distance. The best time to visit the Sunderbans is in the winter. The national park is open for visitors from October to March.
Far away from the hustle and bustle of urban life - Kolkata the capital of West Bengal is over 130 km away - the Sunderbans are a calm and serene getaway. Get closer to nature on your wildlife tour of the Sunderbans.