Sundarban Biosphere

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Sundarban Biosphere

As part of the Man and Biosphere Programme (MAB), accepted in the general conference of the UNESCO in 1970, the Ministry of Environment & Forests, Govt. of India adopted the National MAB programme and declared the entire 9630 sq. km. Of Sundarban as the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve in 1989 through a notification to establish a formal mechanism for coordinating and integrating diverse activities of conservation, research and training for creating a better situation of harmony between man and environment. The Sundarbans, due to its unique ecosystem, has also been declared as a World Heritage site in 1989. Sundarban Biosphere Reserve has also been included as the second Biosphere Reserve from India , other than Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve, in the global network of Biosphere Reserves, in November 2001.
Sundarban, the largest delta in the world, consists of 10,200 sq km of Mangrove Forest , spread over India (4200 sq km of Reserved Forest) and Bangladesh (6000 sq km approx of Reserved Forest) and is also the largest Mangrove Forest in the world. Another 5400 sq km of non-forest, inhabited region in India , along the north and north-western fringe of mangrove forest, is also known as Sundarban region in India . Hence, the total area of Sundarban region in India is 9600 sq km which constitutes the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve. Indian Sundarban is bound on the west by river Muriganga and on the east by rivers Harinbhanga and Raimangal. Other major rivers flowing through this eco-system are Saptomukhi, Thakuran, Matla and Goasaba.

Uniqueness of Sundarban Forest

Sundarban Biosphere Reserve was constituted by Government of India (GOI) in 1989 and it received the recognition of UNESCO under its Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme in November, 2001. Sundarban National Park , forming the core area of Sundarban Tiger Reserve, received recognition as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987. It has been nominated by GOI for recognition as Ramsar Site (a wetland of international importance). Sundarban Tiger Reserve was constituted by GOI under Project Tiger scheme, in 1973. Sundarban is the only mangrove forest in the world which is the home of Tiger. Sundarban Tiger Reserve has the highest tiger population in the world.

Importance of Sundarban Ecosystem

Sundarban has extremely rich diversity of aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna. Sundarban's highly productive ecosystem acts as a natural fish nursery. Sundarban Mangrove reduces the fury of cyclonic storm and prevents erosion due to tidal action. Finally, millions of people depend on Sundarban Ecosystem for their livelihood and sustenance through fishing, collection of honey and fuelwood/timber.

Topography and Soil

Geologically, the Sundarban delta is the largest prograding delta on the globe. The region is covered solely by quaternary sediments carried and deposited by the rivers Ganges , Matla & Bidyadhari.

Climate and Rainfall

Although the region is situated south of the Tropic of Cancer, the temperature is equable due to its proximity to the sea. Average annual maximum temperature is around 35°C . Average annual rainfall is 1920 mm. Average humidity is about 82% which is more or less uniform throughout the year.

Present status of Faunal Resources

Sundarban mangrove forest is the single largest home of the Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris). Sundarban is also the only mangrove forest in the world having the tiger as its indigenous population. As per 2004 census, the tiger population in Indian Sundarban is around 274, out of which Sundarban Tiger Reserve and South 24-Parganas Forest Division have 249 Tigers and 25 tigers respectively. There are 58 species of mammals, 55 species of reptiles and around 248 bird species.
Sundarbans also harbors a good number of rare and globally threatened animals including Estuarine Crocodile (Crocodilus porosus), Fishing Cat (Felis viverrina), Common otter (Lutra lutra), Water Monitor lizard (Varanus salvator), Gangetic Dolphin (Platinista gangetica), Snubfin dolphin (Orcella brevirostris), River Terrapin (Batagur baska), marine turtles like Olive Ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), Green Sea Turtle (Chelonia mydas ), Hawksbill Turtle (Eritmochelys imbricata). Six species of Shark and Ray, which are found here, are included in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act. These indicate that Sundarban Reserved Forest is a natural biodiversity hot spot.
Other mammals comprise of Wild boars, Spotted deer, Porcupines and Rhesus macaque. Among the reptiles, the King cobra, the common cobra, Banded krait, Russells Viper comprise the community of venomous reptiles, while the Python, Checkered Kill-Back, Dhaman , Green Whip Snake and several other species constitute the non-venomous snakes.

Common Plants of Sundarban

Sl No. Scientific Name Local Name Family
1 Acanthus ilicifolius L. (ME) Harguza Acanthaceae (S)
2 A. volubilis wall (ME) Lata harguza Acanthaceae (C)
3 Aegialitis rotundifolia Roxb. (ME) Tora Plurnbagenaceae (S)
4 Aegiceras carnikulatum (L) Blanco (ME) Khalsi Myrsinaceae (T)
5 Avicennia alba Blume (ME) Piara baen Verbenaceae (T)
6 A. marina (Forsk) Vierh. (ME) Kala baen Verbenaceae (T)
7 A. officinalis L. (ME) Jat baen Verbenaceae (T)
8 Aglaia cuculata (Roxb.) Pellegrin Amur Meliaceae (T)
9 Acrostichum aureum L. Hodo Ptcridaceae (S)
10 Bruguiera cyhndrica (L) Blume (ME) Bakul Rhizophoraceae(T)
11 B. gymnorhiza (L) Lam. (ME) Kankra Rhizophoraceae(T)
12 B. Sexangula (Lour) Poirot. (ME) Kankra Rhizophoraceae(T)
13 B. Parviflora (Roxb.) Wight and Arm (ME) Bakul Rhizophoraceae(T)
14 Brownlowia terra (L) Koster Lata-sundari Tiliaceac (S)
15 Cerbera manghas Geartn. Dakor Appocynaceae (T)
16 Clerodendrum inerme (L) Geartn. Bajai Verbenaceae (S)
17 Caesalpinia bunducella (L) Roxb. Nate Leguminoseae (S)
18 C. cristata (L) Nate Leguminoseae (S)
19 Ceriops decandra (Gritt) Ding Hou. (ME) Jhamti or jele goran Rhizophoraceae (S)
20 C. Tagal (Perrottet) C. S. Robinson (ME) Math goran Rhizophoraceae (S)
21 Cynometra iripa Kostel Singra Leguminoseae (T)
22 Derris scandens (Roxb.) Benth. Kalilata Leguminoseae (C)
23 D. heterophylla (WiIld.) Back and Bakh. Kalilata Leguminoseae (C)
24 Dalbergia spinosa Roxb. ---------- Leguminoseae (C)
25 Entada scandens Benth. Gila Leguminoseae (C)
26 Excoecaria agollocha L. (ME) Genwa Euphorbiaceae (M)
27 Finlaysonia obovata L Dudhilata Asclapiadeceae (C)
28 Fimbristylis ferruginea ---------- Cyperaccae (H)
29 Hemithrea compressus L. ---------- Graminae (Gr.)
30 Heliotropium curassavieum Linn. ---------- Chenopodiaceae (H)
31 Heritierafomes Buch-Ham. (ME) Sundari Sterculiaceae (T)
32 Hibiscus tilliaceous L. Bhola Malvaccae (T)
33 Kandelia candel (L) Druce (ME) Garia Rhizophoraceae (T)
34 Lumnitzera racemosa Willd (ME) Kripa Combrataceae (T)
35 Mukuna gigancea (Willd.) D. C. ---------- Cucorbitaceae (C)
36 Myriostachya wightiana (Nessex Steud) Hook f. Ghash Graminae (Gr.)
37 Nypa fruiticans Wurmb (ME) Golpata Palmac (T)
38 Phoenix paludosa Roxb. (ME) Hental Palmac (T)
39 Porterasia coarctata (Roxb.) Tateoca.(ME) Dhanighash Pocceae (Gr.)
40 Pandanus tectorius soland Keya Pandanaceae (T)
41 Pluchea indica Linn. ---------- ----------
42 RhizopNora apiculata Blume (ME) Garjan Rhizophoraceae (T)
43 R. mucronata Lam. (ME) Garjan Rhizophoraceae (T)
44 Sacharum cylindricum L Ulu Graminae (GI.)
45 Suaeda nudiflora Mog. Gira sak Chenopodiaceae (H)
46 S. monoeca L. Nonaguru Chenopodiaceae (H)
47 S. meritima Dumort. Nonaguri Chenopodiaceae (H)
48 Sesuvium Portulicastrum L. Jadu Palang Ficoidae (H)
49 Salicornea brachiata Roxb. ---------- Chenopodiaceae (H)
50 Salacia prinoides (Willd.) D. C. ---------- Celastraceae
51 Scirpus littorea Schrad ---------- Cyperaceae (H)
52 Sonneratia apetala Buch-Ham. (ME) Keora Lythraceae (T)
53 S. Caseolaris (L) Engl. (ME) Ora Lythraceae (T)
54 S. griffithii Kurz. (ME) Ora Lythraceae (T)
55 S. alba J. Smith (ME) Ora Lythraceae (T)
56 Stenochlaena palustre Bold. ---------- ----------
57 Stichtocardia tilifolia Hallier F. ---------- Manispermaceac (C)
58 Thespesia populnoides (Roxb.) Kostel. Paras Malvaceae (T)
59 T. populnea (Linn.) Solex Carrea Paras Malvaceae (T)
60 Tamarix troupii Hole Nona Jhau Tamaricaceae (T)
61 T. dioica Roxb. Nona Jhau Tamaricaceae (T)
62 Viscum orientale Van. ---------- Loranthaceae (C)
63 Xylocarpus granatum Koenig. (ME) Dhundul Meliaceae (T)
64 X. mekongensis Pierre (Sym. X. Gangeticus Parkinson) (ME) Passur Meliaceae (T)

Common Birds of Sundarban

Sl No. Scientific Name English/Local Name
1 Phalocrocorax niger Little cormorant
2 Ardea purpurea Purple heron
3 Butorides striatus Little green bittern
4 Ardeola grayii Pond heron
5 Bubutcus ibis Cattle egret
6 Egretta alba Large egret
7 Egretta intermedia Median egret
8 Egretta garzetta Little egret
9 Nycticorax nycticorax Hight heron
10 Anastomus oscitans Open bill stork
11 Leptoptilos javanicus Smaller adjutant stork
12 Haliastur indus Brahminy kite
13 Vanellus indicus Redwattled lapwing
14 Numenius phacopus Whimbrel
15 *Limosa limosa Blacktailed godwit
16 * Tringa hypoleucos Common sandpiper
17 * Streptopelia decaocto Ring dove
18 Streptopelia chinensis Spotted dove
19 Psittacula krameri Roseringed parakeet
20 Centropus sinensis Crow pheasant
21 Cypsiur parvus Palmswift
22 Ceryle rudis Pied kingfisher
23 Halcyon orientalis White-collared kingfisher
24 Dinopium benghalense Golden-backed woodpecker
25 Picoides macei Fulvus-brested pied woodpecker
26 Hirundo rustica Common swallow
27 * Mirops orientalis Small green bee-eater
28 Dicrurus aeneus Bronzed drongo
29 Artamus fuscus Ashy swallow-shrike
30 Sturnus contra Pied myna
31 Acridotheres fuscus jungle myna
32 Corvus macrorhynchos Jungle crow
33 Coracina melanoptera Black-headed cuckoo-shrike
34 Coracina novaehallandiae Large cuckoo-shrike
35 Aegithina tiphia Common iora
36 Pycnonotus cafer Redvented bulbul
37 Rhipidura albicollis Whitespotted fantail flycatcher
38 Orthotomus sutorius Tailor bird
39 Capsychus saularits Magpie robin
40 Nectarinia asiatica Purple sunbird
41 Zosterops paipebrosa White-eye
42 Passer domesticus House sparrow
43 Lonchura malacca Black-headed munia
* marked birds are migratory, others are local

Common Animals of Sundarban

Sl No. Scientific Name English/Local Name
1 Panthera Tigris Tiger
2 Felis viverina Fishing cat
3 Felis chaus Jungle cat
4 Viverra zibatha Civet cat
5 Viverricula indica Small Indian civet
6 Cervus axis Axis deer or chital
7 Sus scrofa Wild boar
8 Macaca mulatta Rhesus monkey
9 Varanus salvator Water monitor or salvator lizard
10 Varanus flaviscense Yellow monitor or monitor lizard
11 Crocodilus porosus Estuarine crocodile
12 Platanista gangetica Gangetic dolphin
13 Chilleseyilum griseum Tiger shark
14 Stegestoma fasciatusu Tiger shark
15 Ophiophagus hannah King cobra
16 Naja naja Indian cobra
17 Bungurus fasciatus Banded krait
18 Vipera russelli Russell's viper
19 Praescutata viperina Sea-snake
20 Enhylrina schistosa Sea-snake
21 Hydrophis obscurus Sea-snake
22 Carcinoscorpius rotundicallada Horse-shoe crab
23 Batagur baska Common batagur
24 Lepidochelys olivacea Ridley turtle
25 Eretmochelys imbrieata Hawksbill turtle
26 Lissemys punctata Pond turtle
27 Hilsa ilisha Hilsa
28 Hilsa toli Hilsa
29 Lates calcarifer Bhekti
30 Liza tada Kalagachhi bhangan
31 Liza microlepis Ram parse
32 Mugil oephalus Aadh bhangan
33 Liza parsia Parse
34 Penaeus monodon Prawn
35 Boleophthalmus boddarti Menomachh
36 Scylla  serrate Red crab
37 Coenobita cavipes Hermit crab
38 Diogenes avarus Hermit crab
39 Clibararius padaversis Hermit crab
40 Metaplax crenulata Metaplax crab
41 Metaplax dentipes Metaplax crab
42 Metaplax distincta Metaplax crab
43 Uca Acutus Fiddler crab
44 Uca lactea Fiddler crab
45 Uca dussumierf Fiddler crab
46 Uca triangularis Fiddler crab
47 Sesarma bidens Tree-climbing crab
48 Sesarma impressa Tree-climbing crab
49 Sesarma tacniolatum Tree-climbing crab
50 Sesarma tetragonum Tree-climbing crab

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