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  National Park Sundarbans
 


The name Sunderbans is perhaps derived from the term meaning 'the forest of sundari' (Heritiera fomes), a reference to the large mangrove tree that provides valuable fuel. Along the coast, the southern part of the forest passes into a mangrove swamp, which has numerous wild animals and crocodile-infested estuaries. It is one of the last preserves of the Royal Bengal tiger and the site of a tiger conservation project.
 
Sunderbans is the largest estuarine delta in the world and the biggest colony of the Royal Bengal Tigers. These evergreen mangrove forests pulsate with myriad forms of life, which hide during hide tide and the ebbing tide reveals them on the glistening mud flats. The land is split by numerous rivers and water channels all emptying into the Bay of Bengal.

The tigers of Sunderbans are known to be mostly man eaters- mainly because of the lack of other suitable prey in the area- and the entire estuary have become, over the past decades, a place where you have to be on the alert all the time. Hunters, honey-collectors and fishermen from the neighbouring areas wander through the sanctuary throughout the year, and there is an average of 40 mauling a year.

 
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This is an improvement on past figures; however, as the forest department has introduced a number of measures- including masks and electric dummies to scare off man eaters. According to local folk culture, it is still believed that Bonbibi, the goddess of the forest, protects the villagers on their hazardous missions. A posse of armed policemen accompanies all visitors who venture into these 'beautiful forests'

It is believed that Bonbibi, the goddess of the forest, protects the woodcutters, honey-collectors and fishermen on their hazardous missions through the forest. For, as the local saying goes, `here the tiger is always watching you'.

Sunderbans is during winters between September and March. There are regular bus services from Calcutta to this place. But the main areas of the sanctuary can only be accessed only by riverine waterways. The best and the safest way to visit Sunderbans are on conducted tours. One can also avail the services of the private vessels from Canning, Gosaba or Basanti.
 
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