Sunderbans (The Mystic Mangrove)

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Item Code: NAJ936
Author: Biswajit Roy Chowdhury and Pradeep Vyas
Publisher: Niyogi Books
Language: English
Edition: 2009
ISBN: 9788189738136
Pages: 120 (Throughout Color Illustrations)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 12.0 inch x 9.5 inch
Weight 1 kg
Fully insured
Fully insured
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Shipped to 153 countries
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Book Description
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About the Book


The Sunderbans, the world's largest mangrove expanse, are nothing less than a hub for naturalists and scientists-a paradise for nature and wildlife photographers and a wonderland for tourists from all over the world. With a unique eco- system, two high tides and two low tides each day, this terrain is very difficult to negotiate, both for Man and Animal.


Here the tiger strives hard to catch its prey while the deer is equally vigilant to defend itself from the predator. In such typical natural conditions, all animals have learnt to adapt to the environment. Here, man learns to co-exist with nature-despite all adversities.


Numerous references to the Sunderbans have been found in ancient Hindu literature such as the Upanishads, and the epics-the Ramayana and the Mahabharata- reinforcing its uncanny aura of mysticism.


Sunderbans: The Mystic Mangrove is a lavishly illustrated and vivid account of this paradise created by God, and is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


About the Author


Biswajit Roy Chowdhury is a noted conservationist and also an ace wildlife photographer. He is the Founder Secretary of Nature Environment & Wildlife Society and Editor of the wildlife society and Editor of the wildlife magazine, Environ.


His other publications on wildlife and Natural Wonders of Asia, Natural Wonders of India & Nepal, The Sunderbans-a pictorial field guide, Wildlife of Kolkata, Bone Bone Berai and Paschim Banglar Pakhi.


Pradeep Vyas is an officer of the Indian Forest Service and worked in several wildlife areas for more than a decade. He held the position of the Field Director of Buxa Tiger Reserve and at present holds the officer of the Field Director of field Director of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve as the Special Chief Conservator of Forests. In recent years he has implemented many modern techniques to minimise man-tiger conflict and anti-poaching activities in the Sunderbans His earlier publication was The Sunderbans-a pictorial field guide.




The Sunderbans-the world's largest mangrove expanse-has a unique eco-system. Two high tides and two low tides each day make this terrain very difficult to negotiate, both for Man and Animal. Here the tiger strives hard to catch its prey while the deer is equally vigilant to defend itself from the predator. In such typical natural conditions, all animals have learnt to adapt to the environment. They are accustomed to drinking saline water; they are fine swimmers; they are constantly fighting the odds of nature.


The people of this region, however, have to struggle hard for their livelihood, and live under the ever-present threat of tiger attacks. Besides having to deal with riverbank erosion, they are regularly exposed to natural calamities like cyclones. However, these natural adversities have made the people of this region aware of the necessity to co-exist with nature.


The success of a good forest manager or an NGO working in this region depends largely on the ability to uphold the conservation of nature and wildlife, while improving the living standards of the people. In this regard, Pradeep Vyas, with his experience of over five years in the Sunderbans, and over 15 years in Wildlife Management has been able to strike the right balance. The tough Sunderbans Tiger Reserve administration with a human touch has enabled him to win the trust of the local community who, in turn, have proved to be an invaluable supporter of the conservation of this World Heritage Site. Biswajit Roy Chowdhury has been working in the villages of the Sunderbans and in the forests for the last 15 years. Writing Sunderbans: The Mystic Mangrove on the flora and fauna of the Sunderbans is a very noble task to have undertaken.


Sunderbans: The Mystic Mangrove will help us understand the essence of the Sunderbans and the necessity of preserving the mystic mangroves for all times to come.




Located at the southernmost fringe of Bangladesh and West Bengal, a state of eastern India, are the pristine deltas of the Sunderbans. The Sunderbans, since time immemorial, have been considered to be a topic of immense ecological significance by scholars and researchers, and even though a lot has been explored, the deltas still retain an uncanny aura of mysticism.


However, the most widely accepted view is that the Sunderbans were formed by the gradual deposition of alluvial silt at the union of the River Ganges and the River Brahmaputra as they cascaded down the mighty Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal.


The Sunderbans are spread over an area of 26,000 sq km, running across India and Bangladesh and are recognized worldwide as the largest deltaic region and home to the famous Royal Bengal Tigers. It ranks amongst the first nine Wildlife Reserves of India, and was brought under 'Project Tiger' in 1973. The immense biodiversity and ongoing geological processes led to further accolades as the Reserve was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987 and a Biosphere Reserve in 1989.


The Indian Sunderbans comprises 9,630 sq km of the total deltaic area, encompassing two major districts of southern


West Bengal-the North and South 24 Parganas. An imaginary line known as the Dampier-Hodges Line after the two surveyors, William Dampier and Lt. M. Hodges, demarcates the forest area on the Indian side, which stretches over 4,263 sq km. The line extends in the north up to the River Hoogly and moves westwards. On the eastern side, it covers the Rivers Ichamati- Raimongol and serves as an excellent guide in establishing the extent of the Indian Sunderbans.


The Sunderbans experience a long spell of monsoons from the end of May till the end of September. Summers are usually between March and end of May. During these months the Sunderbans become sultry and humid, and the waters turn turbulent. Occasional depressions in the Bay of Bengal during summer and the end of monsoons result in fierce cyclonic storms, which cause heavy destruction.


Numerous references to the Sunderbans have been found in ancient Hindu literature and epics, such as the Upanishads, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The Sunderbans are a treasure-trove for naturalists and scientists, a paradise for nature and wildlife photographers and a wonderland for tourists from all over the world.


Geographical evidence of the origin of the Sunderbans reveals that the entire bed is a result of alluvial deposition, as there is no trace of marine deposits deep below the ground level. The tidal swamps extend up to the Rajmahal Hills, situated in Jharkhand, a state in eastern India. These swamps were filled up about 35 million years ago by drainage from the folded mountains of the north. Older sediment started getting covered by the thick alluvium carried down by the rivers. This geological activity resulted in the formation of numerous tiny islands. The eminent geologist, R.D. Oldham, in his study of the region, stated that the entire area of which Sunderbans was a part, took shape owing to the constant deposition of debris carried down by the River Ganges and the River Brahmaputra and their many tributaries.


Research certifies that 200 million years ago, a series of tectonic activities caused the elevations and depressions of the gneissic hills in the Gondwana belt, and coupled with slow deposition of alluvium, spread over a hundred years from the Himalayas, were responsible for the formation of the lower Gangetic delta. The geography of the coastal area and the two flanks of the Sunderbans suggest that sometime in the past, the main flank of the water from the central and eastern Himalayas, after covering a point somewhere in the north of Bengal, started its journey towards the sea through a small channel. Consequently, the fierce velocity of water flooded the adjoining coastal areas, which led to the formation of a large shallow continental shelf in the Bay of Bengal. The deposition of alluvial strata in the continental shelf was accelerated due to the subsequent depression of gneissic hills, which allowed the enormous silt burden to be deposited in the region. The main channel coming down from the Himalayas divided itself into several small channels and took the present shape of innumerable creeks. These creeks are characterized by low depth in comparison to their width, restricting their capacity to carry the water-load. Studies reveal that for a river to carry the burden of silt, a minimum of 12 cm slope in the riverbed is required. However, in most areas of southern Bengal, the slope of the riverbed is much less. When the River Ganges touches the plains of southern Bengal, after travelling 1800 km, the current tends to become slow allowing the silt to sediment. The islands thus formed continue to maintain an extremely suitable natural biosphere. However, the flatness of the land is a constant threat because even a nominal four-metre rise in the water level can wash out the entire-landmass, including Kolkata in the blink of an eye.


According to geologist, J. Fergusson, the entire Bengal basin was a shallow marine land in the early Pleistocene age. During the later part of the Pleistocene age, the sea receded completely from this region. The bulk of alluvial deposits carried by the rivers covered the marine sediments.


There are thus numerous theories regarding the origin of the place, some acceptable, others shunned. onetheless the few core and inherent characteristics which have the bewitching power to make anyone fall in love with the place and have been instrumental in making the Sunderbans unique, include its faunal treasure, the people and their culture, the complex riverine system, the eerie atmosphere of the mangrove forests and last but not least, the elusive Royal Bengal Tigers.








The Desperate Delta


The Mangal


The Vibrant Mudflats


The Stunning Sea Face


Bound by Faith


Survival in the Sunderbans


Dedicated to the Cause


Tourist Haven




Sunderbans Map


Useful Addresses





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