Startling Facts about Sundari Trees of Sundarban National Park

  • By Tushar
  • 15/Apr/2024
  • Comments (1.5k)

The mere mention of Sundarbans is enchanting, as it carries a captivating allure. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a prominent hub for tiger conservation through the Tiger Project, it is the preferred choice for tiger enthusiasts seeking to witness these majestic creatures along the delta's banks in India and Bangladesh. The breathtaking spectacle of tigers swimming and lounging in the brackish waters of Sundarbans, coupled with the presence of various wild animals, can evoke goosebumps. Enveloped by dense mangrove forests and expansive saline mudflats, Sundarbans provides an opportunity to explore the best of both flora and fauna, boasting 260 bird species and endangered creatures like the estuarine crocodile and the Indian Python. These compelling facets, along with other fascinating facts about Sundarbans, offer ample reasons to plan a trip to this captivating destination.

The Sundari trees, from which Sundarbans derives its name, play a crucial role in providing both ecological and economic benefits. Opting to visit Sundarban is a commendable choice to delve into its distinct and unique demography. Positioned geographically as the most prominent mangrove forest, Sundarbans reside on the delta formed by three major rivers - the Ganges, Padma, and the Brahmaputra. However, it's important to note that Sundarban Forest is not just a dense jungle; it possesses distinct and exceptional characteristics that set it apart.

Here's a sample itinerary for a Sunderbans National Park boat safari:

sundarbans trees
What are Sundari Trees?

The Sundarbans, situated in the eastern part of West Bengal, India, and Bangladesh, stands as the largest continuous mangrove forest globally, boasting a history as rich as its lush landscape. Just as elusive as the forest's most famous inhabitant, the Royal Bengal Tiger are the Sundari trees that contribute to the area's distinctive ecology.

The Sundari Tree stands out as one of the most prevalent mangrove species. Characterized by its sizable stature and wing-shaped nuts, this tree is easily identifiable, notably due to the silvery scales on the undersides of its leaves. Scientifically referred to as Heritiera littoralis, it is commonly known as the Sundari tree in both Hindi and Bengali languages.

Similar to other mangrove trees, Sundari trees thrive in the deltaic confluence where rivers meet the ocean. The mangrove marshlands endure the regular influx of saltwater carried by tides. The swampy soil, deficient in oxygen and saturated with water, poses a challenge for most plant species. However, trees like the Sundari reign as the queens of the marshlands. They possess specialized aerial roots (pneumatophores) that extend from the mud, enabling them to extract oxygen from the air. Additionally, the leaves of these trees feature glands that excrete excess salt, allowing them to adapt to the challenging environment.

Uses and Significance of Sundari Trees

• In the Sundarbans and its adjacent districts, the Sundari Tree serves as the primary source of timber, providing hard and redwood that yields high-quality charcoal. This wood is extensively utilized in boat building, manufacturing hardwood floors and furniture, as well as constructing pilings, bridges, and wharves. The Sundari tree's hard, fine-grained, tough, and elastic timber also finds applications in construction and as firewood.

• The expansive canopy of the Sundari forest, coupled with its intricate root network, provides a sanctuary for birds, fish, reptiles, mollusks, insects, crustaceans, and mammals to breed and raise their offspring. This nurturing environment has earned mangroves the fitting nickname of "nature’s nursery."

• The Sundarbans, renowned for harboring some of the world’s rarest and most elusive animals, including the Royal Bengal Tiger, also hosts India’s national aquatic animal, the Gangetic River dolphin (Platanista gangetica). This rare riverine dolphin frolics in the waters of the Sundarbans, contributing to the rich biodiversity.

• The Sundari trees play a crucial role in sheltering critically endangered animals among their branches and roots.

• Beyond wildlife protection, Sundari trees are recognized for their role in shielding human settlements from devastating cyclones. Furthermore, the Sundarbans excel in carbon sequestration, making a valuable contribution to our collective efforts against climate change.

Threats Faced by the Sundari Trees of Sundarbans

The Sunderbans National Park stand as the largest mangrove forest globally, yet the area covered by the forest has significantly diminished, attributed to both natural and anthropogenic influences. Mangroves thrive in a unique natural environment characterized by a specific blend of saline and freshwater. Alterations in this delicate balance pose threats to the Sundarbans, with an increase in saline water and the adverse impacts of climate change proving detrimental to the Sundari Trees.

Despite these challenges, various conservation measures have been implemented to safeguard the Sundari trees. While controlling human activities is a contributing factor, addressing the damage caused by climatic factors necessitates a strategic and comprehensive approach.