Sundarbans Mangroves

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Mangove forest on a swamp island in the Sunderbans Reserve. Ganges Delta. India.
© WWF-Canon / Gerald S. CUBITT

World's largest mangrove ecosystem

What
The Sundarbans delta is the largest mangrove forest in the world and is  intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islands of salt-tolerant mangrove forests.  It lies at the mouth of the Ganges.

Where
The Sundarban Delta is situated on the border of India and Bangladesh, where the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Mehgna rivers converge in the Bengal basin.

Area
The area of Sundarbans is estimated in size at 10,000km2 (UNESCO) - though figures vary greatly depending on who you ask. The area itself gets its name from the large number of Sundari (Heritiera fomes) trees in the region.

Why
Free of permanent habitation and almost 70% covered by mangrove forest, this massive area is home to more than 400 Bengal tigers - possibly the highest concentration on the planet.

Accompanying the tigers are a plethora of other animals inlcuding a wealth of water birds, the fishing cat (Felis viverrinus), spotted deer (Cervus axis), crocodiles and snakes. Under the waters of the Sundarbans you could find the Ganges dolphin (Platanista gangetica), Indo-Pacific hump-backed dolphin (Sousa chinensis), Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) and finless porpoise (Neophocaena phocaenoides).

The Sundarbans National Park was inscribed in the UNESCO World heritage List in 1987 and the portion of the Sundarbans lying in Bangladesh was inscribed in 1997.
 / ©: NASA, Visible Earth
The great Ganges-Brahmaputra River Delta of Bangladesh and India. As the rivers empty, they carry large quantities of sediment into the Bay of Bengal. The delta (center of the photograph) is over 220 miles (350 kilometers) wide along the Bay of Bengal. The darker colored mangrove forests of the Sundarbans, a great wilderness of swamps, dense timber forests, small islands, and tidal creeks covering 6526 square miles (16 900 square kilometers), occupy the middle of the delta.
© NASA, Visible Earth
Indian tiger (<i>Panthera tigris tigris</i>) swimming in the water. / ©: WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY
Indian tiger (Panthera tigris tigris) swimming in the water.
© WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY

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