Sundarban : The Beautiful Forest
by Sayed Hasan, ECOCLUB.com Expert Member in Bangladesh.
The word Sundarban is a compound word (sundar+ban). In Bengali, the national language of Bangladesh ‘sundar’ means beautiful and ‘ban’ means forest, thus sundarban is a beautiful forest in Bengali. And it is indeed. Sundarban is the home of more than one hundred and fifty thousand spotted deer and a few thousand barking deer. Spotted deer have a craving for the leaves of the Keora tree (Sonneratia apetale). Keora is a tall tree so a deer cannot reach its branches. But you know, there is an amazing friendship, in this forest, between deer and monkey (Rherus macaque). Monkeys pluck green leaves from top branches of Keora trees and drop them on the ground for deer to eat. (In a group of monkeys one always sits on the topmost branch of the tallest tree in the vicinity as a guard. When it detects a tiger, it gives a special sound; deer also know the meaning of that sound and run off for shelter.) Besides Keora leaves, spotted deer like to eat the leaves of Gewa (Excoecaria agallocha) tree, and the fruit of Sundari (Heritiera Fomes) tree. Barking deer prefer to eat different types of creepers; they also eat Keora leaves like the spotted deer. Monkeys themselves eat Keora leaves as well, but not that much. Monkeys of Sundarban like to eat eggs of birds, turtle and crocodile. One of their favourite ‘dishes’ is ‘Dogar’ fish. They catch the fish from innumerable rivers, canals and creeks in the forest. Savanna grass grows in some parts of Sundarban. Both spotted and barking deer like to eat this grass, especially early in the morning and in the evening when the Sun is not that hot. Wild boars of Sundarban eat the upper part of the roots of grass as well as of Hargosa (Acanthaceae) fern, of Hudh (Tiger fern) and Hogla (Elephant grass). I forgot to tell you that the deer of Sundarban like dry fish very much. Though seldom they get the taste of dry fish. The king of Sundarban, the Royal Bengal Tiger (Panther Tigris), is not ‘vegetarian’. Deer is number one item in its menu, sometimes boar becomes its prey when it cannot lay its hand on a deer, and it also catches fish got trapped in clay after the ebb tide. When a tiger gets old and cannot catch its natural preys, it stretches its hand, unwillingly, toward human beings. But often it is the other way round: on a sad note, on September 10, poachers killed a Royal Bengal Tiger in the Sundarban. This species of tiger has been included by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) in its Red Data Book, in 1969, as one of the most endangered animal on earth facing extinction. The forestry guards encountered, on September 10, a group of seven poachers in the deep forest who were flaying a tiger killed by them. After exchanging fire with the guards, the poachers fled the spot, leaving behind their prey. The dead tiger, 7 ft long, had eight bullet marks on its body. Sundarban is the home of most of the remaining Royal Bengal Tiger on earth. Bones, nails, testicles and skin of a tiger are traded illegally at very exorbitant prices in the underground world market. Bones, nails and testicles of a tiger are used to make unconventional medicine traditionally popular in East Asia. The Bangladesh government put a ban in 1974 on hunting in the Sundarban however a few gangs of international smugglers are still active to this day in the poaching of Royal Bengal Tigers