There is a world somewhere between reality and fiction. Although ignored by many, it is very real and so are those living in it. This forum is about the natural world. Here, wild animals will be heard and respected. The forum offers a glimpse into an unknown world as well as a room with a view on the present and the future. Anyone able to speak on behalf of those living in the emerald forest and the deep blue sea is invited to join.
--- Peter Broekhuijsen ---

  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Sundarban Mini-trip

India Rishi Offline
Moderator
*****
Moderators
#1
Smile  ( This post was last modified: 12-23-2017, 09:51 PM by Rishi )

I'm off to Sundarban Tiger Reserve tomorrow morning, for a very short tour. I'll be back on 26th evening.

Southern Bengal have witnessed a long mid-winter depression for the past few days. Weather cleared today morning itself.. Thus, i'm expecting to see basking saltwater crocodiles at the least. 

Will post detailed photos & videos whenever i have access to the internet.

Wish me luck!!
"Everything not saved will be lost."

9 users Like Rishi's post
Reply

Venezuela epaiva Offline
Moderator
*****
Moderators
#2

(12-23-2017, 09:50 PM)Rishi Wrote: I'm off to Sundarban Tiger Reserve tomorrow morning, for a very short tour. I'll be back on 26th evening.

Southern Bengal have witnessed a long mid-winter depression for the past few days. Weather cleared today morning itself.. Thus, i'm expecting to see basking saltwater crocodiles at the least. 

Will post detailed photos & videos whenever i have access to the internet.

Wish me luck!!

Good luck my Friend hope you can take very good pictures of Saltwater crocs and other animals and see a Tiger, they are very hard to spot but hope you can see one of them
3 users Like epaiva's post
Reply

India sanjay Offline
Wildanimal Enthusiast
*****
#3

All the best Rishi. Wish you good tiger sighting  Ha Ha
4 users Like sanjay's post
Reply

Switzerland Spalea Offline
Wildanimal Lover
*****
#4

All the best, let you see some big animals, tigers, saltwater crocs and so on, and enjoy fully this beautiful country ! Beautiful because full of wild and mystery life...
5 users Like Spalea's post
Reply

Canada Wolverine Offline
Regular Member
***
#5

I am jealous...
2 users Like Wolverine's post
Reply

Canada Wolverine Offline
Regular Member
***
#6

We should already have some news from our friend Rishi, I start to worry ..... hopefully our friend is not fallen a victim of notorious Sundarban tigers man-eaters ..... than who is going to moderate tiger section of the forum....
3 users Like Wolverine's post
Reply

India Rishi Offline
Moderator
*****
Moderators
#7

@Wolverine I've reached home just an hour ago (it's 9:00 pm). Will start posting from tomorrow evening. Internet is slow now, also I'm pretty tired...
"Everything not saved will be lost."

5 users Like Rishi's post
Reply

India Rishi Offline
Moderator
*****
Moderators
#8
( This post was last modified: 12-31-2017, 11:43 AM by Rishi )

I'm now done with the editing/sorting & is good to go.

Also, this was my second trip to the Sundarban area in 2017. Previous one was in February (not the Tiger Reserve) but as i had joined Wildfact for only 2-3 weeks back then, i didn't make a post on it. I'll write one here after this is done.
This is not going to be just about the travel & safari, but i intend to share Sundarban as an experience... so bear with me.

Day 1: 24/12/2017 
As my parents felt that i needed a break from my Indian Forest Service exam preps, they'd arranged this through a local tour-operator. Turns out, it was a huge party of 40. Mostly families looking to have a good time with sighting at the bottom of their priority list. Needless to say, i wasn't very stoked about it.

The whole group left by bus at about 8:00am. After leaving the city we headed southeast towards the small town of Basanti where you have to switch ride to a launch to continue towards the mangrove by water.

*This image is copyright of its original author

But after crossing the Matla river at the town of Canning one is officially inside the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve, and around you the scenery starts to change drastically. Because these regions are human habitations there are earthen embankments all along the rivers & creeks so that the water doesn't flood into the settlements at high tides. Thus monsoon rainwater can't escape either.

So there are no cropfields near the rivers, but massive waterbodies sprawling to the horizons are formed & the locals farm fish in those, thus reducing the pressure of the riverine ecosystem. This photo was taken at 10:00am, but the winter fog was still strong.

*This image is copyright of its original author

On reaching the jetty i saw this monstrosity approaching us, that was to ferry us to the forest & for safari next day. The first thing that came to my mind was "These things shouldn't be allowed inside the forest". 
But apparently if it passes a decibel-test, it is deemed silent enough for entering the forest, size doesn't matter.

*This image is copyright of its original author

As you move southwards towards the sea, the change of level of infrastructure from modern to conventional is noticeable, as the tides grow stronger, soil softer & rivers moodier.

Up this north, the rivers are still fast enough with strong currents to carry most of the silt. So, there are concrete covered embankments (reinforcing upgradation still underway) besides the rivers over which a thin road runs and all houses & power lines sit on the safety of their height.

*This image is copyright of its original author


*This image is copyright of its original author

More to the south as the flow of the water simmers down, this method doesn't work. The rivers start shedding their debris inside the water and with time the whole river bed rises higher, until one fine day it would overflow/collapse the obstacles during the tides & gushing water would flood in to wash away everything in its path.

So here you have to use bare mud-banks like the old days, upto 10 metres wide that leave some room for washing away & deposition.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Farther south even that is inadequate, as cyclones hit harder and tides call the shots. The narrower creeks aren't that much of a problem but the bigger river can gain 50% of their width at high-tides.

Owing to the availability of space to on the riversides, there are strips of mangroves to act as buffers against the destructive force of the rivers & check soil erosion of the banks.
These vary in width, origin & species, some being 5 metres wide...

*This image is copyright of its original author

..to some reaching upto 500 metres.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Some are remnants of the prehistoric forests... 

*This image is copyright of its original author

..while some are new artificial plantations.

*This image is copyright of its original author

By afternoon, we had the peoples' villages on left side and the Tiger Reserve to the right, with the outer borders of it draped with bright yellow nylon nets even at the mouth of the creeks, to discourage tigers from exploring the villages (yes, they work #118).

*This image is copyright of its original author

By evening we reached Pakhirala, the place that acts as entry point to the Sundarbans at Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary. This is where you stay, with the Tiger Reserve on the other side of the river.
I took this photo standing on the embankment with sun setting above the mangroves shrouded in mist.

*This image is copyright of its original author
"Everything not saved will be lost."

9 users Like Rishi's post
Reply

United States Pckts Offline
Bigcat Enthusiast
******
#9

Any wildlife sightings @Rishi
"Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is."
-Oscar Wilde
3 users Like Pckts's post
Reply

Netherlands peter Offline
Expert & Researcher
*****
Moderators
#10

RISHI

Good observations and nice pictures. Interested in the follow-up and good luck with the exams.
2 users Like peter's post
Reply

India Rishi Offline
Moderator
*****
Moderators
#11
( This post was last modified: 01-01-2018, 07:23 AM by Rishi )

Day 2: 25/12/2017

Photo of the fogged forest taken at 6:15am in the morning as we reached the jetty, while some of the team were still sipping bed-tea!

*This image is copyright of its original author

The vessel finally left at 7:00. We were late even by winter standards. By this time you are supposed to be already halfway inside the forest...

Anyway, the Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary makes up most of the tourism zone of the Sundarban Tiger Reserve. The forest office is just on the other side of the river from the hotel's & rest houses, where you make a stop to issue permits.

*This image is copyright of its original author

In the complex there is a hatching centre of the critically endangered River terrapin turtle (Batagur Baska)...

*This image is copyright of its original author

And a mini botanical garden to acquiant people to the mangrove species.

And then, onward to the Sundarbans.

*This image is copyright of its original author

First stop... the Sudhanyakhali camp.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Although right at the edge of the reserve, the watch-tower here is famous for famous sightings like THIS & THIS.

*This image is copyright of its original author

The camps basically consists of a watch-tower and a elevated, fenced approach to it, similar to a canopy walk.

*This image is copyright of its original author

In front of the tower typically a fresh water pond is dug & holding rainwater. This draws the animals towards it as they prefer drinking it over the saline water or the canals & creeks.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Also there are ong 20-25 metres wide stretches of artificial clearings, called "observation lines". The idea is that the wildlife, that would otherwise be inside thick jungle would be sighted as they cross there open stretches.

*This image is copyright of its original author

By the time we were there or was already almost 9:00am. 

All i could sight was this water monitor...

*This image is copyright of its original author

But the mud below was dotted with literally hundreds of deer hoofmarks, not more than a few hours old. They'd been there that morning itself. Even the mud they kicked off was still wet (the area floods at high tide).

*This image is copyright of its original author

Also, the camp was visited by a male tiger 2 days ago at dawn. The pug-mark got faint, but still was recognisable.
They kept a brick (Indian standard: 10×15×25 cms) to its left. Compared with that, it should be some 13-14cms in dimension.

*This image is copyright of its original author

From there we headed for Dobanki camp, through the forests' channels (The wider ones. Entering the narrow creeks is forbidden as boats might get stuck in mud).

*This image is copyright of its original author

The journey is meant to take the whole day as you reach it by afternoon, another drinking time for animals.

This is the part where you actually get to feel the Sundarbans. It was nothing like my previous experiences in the fringe forests!

What especially struck me was how very quiet it was. @SuSpiciouS @Pckts @Apollo & whoever have been in safari at India's mainland jungles can confirm how loud it is there. You'll hear birds & monkeys on every other tree, shrieking at the top of their voice & decoding those sounds decide your sighting chances. But not here...
It almost felt like a haunted forest, shrouded in a veil of silence. You can hear absolutely nothing other than the faint rumble of the boat's engine.

Here you don't just have a sighting, you earn it...
The vegetation is too thick for anything beyond a metre inside to be seen...

*This image is copyright of its original author

The leaves on the trees form a perfect line, indicating the level to which the water rises during the high-tides. When we went was just after Vora Kotal, the time of full/no moon when Sun-Earth-Moon are aligned resulting in the water rising higher with tides, almost 2.5 metres!

See that one metre odd gap between the leaves & the land? 
That dark shadowed part is what you keep scanning until your eyes ache.

I would say the "safari" itself was extremely dry. Saw a few crocs, but too far to be caught in my 10-years-old 8 Megapixels, 5X zoom. 
There were birds, almost a dozen species i could identify.. & more importantly, locate. But their frequency of occurrence was very underwhelming & they kept their distance. Only this fishing eagle was in the open...

*This image is copyright of its original author

Same for deers. We sighted multiple, but either alone or in groups as small as half a dozen, munching inside the undergrowth.

I guess they know the designated route for the boats to pass & don't frequent that area.

Little after noon, the tides started coming in & the rivers began to swell.
You could feel the sea-water backflow into the river as the vessel under you swayed.

The trees & mudflats got engulfed by gushing waves.

*This image is copyright of its original author

Soon we moved into a wide river and you couldn't see either sides from the middle.

*This image is copyright of its original author

The motor-boats that i thought was too big really felt tiny now...

A bunch of monkey greets at the Dobanki camp.

*This image is copyright of its original author

From the watch-tower i saw a majestic Cheetal stag, grazing along the pond. Was a bit too far for my camera though...

*This image is copyright of its original author

It was dusk when we reached Pakhirala back along the wide river along the outer edge of the forest.

While i've been typing this the clock had ticked past 12:00. So, HAPPY NEW YEAR to all!
"Everything not saved will be lost."

9 users Like Rishi's post
Reply

United States Pckts Offline
Bigcat Enthusiast
******
#12

Happy New Year @Rishi 

Thanks for posting about your trip, I can see that the sunderban doesn’t share its secrets easily and especially not if you get a late start. Great post, thanks again.
"Imagination was given to man to compensate him for what he is not, and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is."
-Oscar Wilde
3 users Like Pckts's post
Reply

United States Polar Offline
Polar Bear Enthusiast
*****
Moderators
#13

I feel just like the first traveler probably did when discovering the Sunderbans while I browsed through your awesome photos! The nature displayed brings a very calm, nurturing presence over me.

Thanks @Rishi!
"If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed ten thousand years ago."

- E.O Wilson
3 users Like Polar's post
Reply

Canada Wolverine Offline
Regular Member
***
#14
( This post was last modified: 01-01-2018, 11:28 AM by Wolverine )

(01-01-2018, 12:51 AM)Rishi Wrote: What especially struck me was how very quiet it was. @SuSpiciouS @Pckts @Apollo & whoever have been in safari at India's mainland jungles can confirm how loud it is there. You'll hear birds & monkeys on every other tree, shrieking at the top of their voice & decoding those sounds decide your sighting chances. But not here...
It almost felt like a haunted forest, shrouded in a veil of silence.

Probably this silence is deceptive. It remind me a sentence from century old E.Salgari adventure novel:
"By day, a dismal silence reigns supreme, instilling terror in even the
bravest of souls, but once darkness descends, the air fills with a frightening
cacophony of howls, roars, and hisses that make the blood run cold."
I personally have no scientific explanation about such daytime silence since there are 286 bird species in Sundarban as well as monkeys. But its described since Victorian travellers started to visit the aria. There is a legend that Sundarban was a last stronghold of the Thuggees - a religious sect of assasins, strangulating their victims also described in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Doom".

"The camps basically consists of a watch-tower and a elevated, fenced approach to it."
Why the approach is fenced?

I was on the verge of visiting Sundarbans in 1993 but unfortunately arrived in Calcutta when the monsoon rains were already started...

Happy New Year @Rishi , I guess your next trip is to Jaldapara National Park...
3 users Like Wolverine's post
Reply

India Rishi Offline
Moderator
*****
Moderators
#15
( This post was last modified: 01-01-2018, 04:04 PM by Rishi )

(01-01-2018, 09:55 AM)Wolverine Wrote: There is a legend that Sundarban was a last stronghold of the Thuggees - a religious sect of assasins, strangulating their victims also described in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Doom".

"The camps basically consists of a watch-tower and a elevated, fenced approach to it."
Why the approach is fenced?

I was on the verge of visiting Sundarbans in 1993 but unfortunately arrived in Calcutta when the monsoon rains were already started...

Happy New Year @Rishi , I guess your next trip is to Jaldapara National Park...

That Indiana Jones film was so pathetic it's banned in India. I torrented it...

Anyway the word thagi literally means "cheater". In pre-1850 India when population was thin, they had villages along traveling & trade routes. At evening wary travelers approached them for shelter for the night & they obliged. Later that night.....
The Mughals tried to deal with the problem by building inns along the road. They simply switched tactics & would join parties as fellow travellers to gain their confidence. And later strangle them in their sleep, with a handkerchief or noose. 

They were more of a sect of common highway robbers, than a murderous secret cult. They drifted away from the mainstream to protect secrecy & intermarried only amongst themselves, thus turning into a social group.

There were others like them such as the thyangare, meaning "lynchers". The name is pretty much explains their modus operandi. They'd pounce upon travellers with cane/bamboo sticks & beat them to death.

Even today every now and then hundreds of years old skulls are found from tilling paddy fields or digging construction sites.

PS: I doubt i'll be able to leave the city anyone soon. There maybe a father's office picnic at the East Kolkata Wetlands in February though.
"Everything not saved will be lost."

3 users Like Rishi's post
Reply






Users browsing this thread:
1 Guest(s)

About Us
Go Social  

Welcome to WILDFACT forum, a website that focuses on sharing the joy that wildlife has on offer. We welcome all wildlife lovers to join us in sharing that joy. As a member you can share your research, knowledge and experience on animals with the community.
wildfact.com is intended to serve as an online resource for wildlife lovers of all skill levels from beginners to professionals and from all fields that belong to wildlife anyhow. Our focus area is wild animals from all over world. Content generated here will help showcase the work of wildlife experts and lovers to the world. We believe by the help of your informative article and content we will succeed to educate the world, how these beautiful animals are important to survival of all man kind.
Many thanks for visiting wildfact.com. We hope you will keep visiting wildfact regularly and will refer other members who have passion for wildlife.

Forum software by © MyBB