Sundarban Tiger Reserve is Magic!

A male and female Lesser Adjutant Stork (Leptoptilos javanicus) circulating high up in the air.

During a recent trip to Kolkata I had the opportunity to visit  the Sundarban Tiger Reserve, which was named a World Heritage Site in 1987.

The Sundarbans are the largest mangrove forest in the world covering a total of 26,000 square km in India and Bangladesh, and it is the confluence of many south Asian rivers carrying silt and waste from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal south of Kolkata.
The Great Egret is very common in the Sunderbans, but ever so graceful.

The Sundarbans support the largest concentration of Royal Bengal Tigers in the world – at just below 300.  They are know as the man-eaters of the Sundarbans as 10-15 people are killed by tigers every year.  The Sundarbans is a very hostile terrain making it difficult for tigers to catch deer or wild boar, and thus humans have become just another form of prey for tigers, which actually are rarely seen.
Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus) Although one tiger were spotted during the 3 days of my visit, I had no such luck, but saw plenty of tiger tracks and tiger food in the form of Chital Deers (Axis axis).  The highlight of the trip from a photographic point of view was seeing two large Stag Chital deers fighting it out just before dark. These stag deers can weigh up to 85 kgs.

The 2 Stags have started to fight – the female Chital deer runs away!

The chital deer has a protracted breeding season due in part to the tropical climate, and births can occur throughout the year. For this reason, males do not have their antler cycles in synchrony and there are some fertile females at all times of the year. Males sporting hard antlers are dominant over those in velvet or those without antlers, irrespective of their size and other factors.

This is serious business

In other parts of India, an interesting relationship has been observed between herds of axis deer and troops of the Northern Plains Gray Langur (Presbytis entellus), a widespread leaf-eating monkey taxon of South Asia. Axis deer apparently benefit from the langurs’ good eyesight and ability to post a lookout in a treetop, helping to raise the alarm when a predator approaches. For the langurs’ part, the axis deer’s superior sense of smell would seem to assist in early predator (read Tiger) warning, and it is common to see langurs foraging on the ground in the presence of axis deer.

Maybe I should get out of here!

If you go there try to stay at the Sundarbans Tiger Camp at Dayapur!

The below video shows that the human vs tiger conflict is ongoing with very sad outcomes for both parties:



3 replies
  1. -
    - says:

    Beautiful, I am from Kolkata, and I have visited Sunderbans. Sighting a tiger is very hard there…pure luck. Hope to see you here again.


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