Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Sunderban Tiger Reserve

Sunderban Tiger Reserve UPSC

The Sundarbans Tiger Reserve is a protected area located in the Sundarbans region of West Bengal, India, and is part of the larger Sundarbans National Park. It is one of the most renowned tiger reserves in India and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Sundarbans is the largest contiguous mangrove forest in the world. The forest is characterized by its dense network of interlacing rivers, creeks, and estuaries. It is the only mangrove forest throughout the world (besides Bangladesh) to harbour significant tiger population. These tigers are unique as they have adapted to living in a mangrove habitat and are excellent swimmers. 

The Sundarbans Tiger Reserve attracts a significant number of tourists and nature enthusiasts who visit to witness its unique beauty and wildlife. Ecotourism activities are regulated to minimize the impact on the delicate ecosystem, and visitors can explore the mangroves through guided boat tours.

Table of Contents

  • Sunderban Tiger Reserve Location
  • Sunderban Tiger Reserve History
  • Sunderban Tiger Reserve Area
  • Sunderban Tiger Reserve River
  • Sunderban Tiger Reserve Flora
  • Sunderban Tiger Reserve Fauna
    • Mammals
    • Birds
    • Reptile
    • Turtle and Tortoise
  • Sundarban Bird Festival UPSC
  • Top Things to do in Sunderban Tiger Reserve
  • Sunderban Tiger Reserve UPSC Questions

Sunderban Tiger Reserve Location

Sundarbans Tiger Reserve (STR) is located in the coastal districts of West Bengal, i.e. South 24- Parganas and part in North 24-Parganas (Arbesi Block only). It lies at the southern-most extremity of the lower Gangetic delta bordering the Bay of Bengal.

It is situated in the Sundarbans delta, formed by the confluence of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers, which ultimately flow into the Bay of Bengal. The Sundarbans Tiger Reserve extends across the India-Bangladesh border, with a portion of the reserve falling within Bangladesh as well.

The Sundarbans Tiger Reserve is bound on the east by the international boundary with Bangladesh formed by the rivers Harinbhanga, Raimangal and Kalindi. On the south lies the Bay of Bengal. The western border is formed by the river Matla, which acts as a common boundary with the territorial Forest Division of South 24- Parganas. Towards the north-west, the area is bound by rivers Bidya and Gomdi.

Sunderban Tiger Reserve Nearest Airport:

The nearest airport to the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve is Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport, located in Kolkata (formerly known as Calcutta), West Bengal, India. It is approximately 112 kilometers (70 miles) away from the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve.

Sunderban Tiger Reserve Nearest Railway Station:

As for the nearest railway station, the Canning Railway Station is the closest one to the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve. It is situated in Canning, South 24 Parganas district, West Bengal. From Canning, you can further travel by road or waterways to reach the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve, which is about 48 kilometers (30 miles) away.

Sunderban Tiger Reserve History

The history of the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve dates back to the early 20th century. Here is an overview of its history:

Early Conservation Efforts: Concerns about the depletion of wildlife in the Sundarbans region led to the establishment of the reserve, which covered a portion of the Sundarbans. This marked the first effort to protect the area and its wildlife.

Tiger Reserve Status: In 1973, the Sunderban was designated as a Tiger Reserve under Project Tiger.

Transition to Wildlife Sanctuary: In 1977, the Sundarbans Reserve Forest was designated as a wildlife sanctuary under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act. This recognition aimed to safeguard the diverse flora and fauna of the region, including the endangered Bengal tiger.

National Park Status: In 1984, Sundarbans Wildlife Sanctuary was declared a National Park.

UNESCO World Heritage Site: In recognition of its exceptional ecological importance, Sundarbans National Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. The park's rich biodiversity contributed to its selection as a World Heritage Site.

Biosphere Reserve: In 1989, Sunderbans declared as a biosphere reserve by government of India

UNESCO Biosphere Reserve: In 2001, UNESCO designated the Sunderbans as a UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves.

Ramsar Site: In 2019, Sunderban Wetland was recognized as the Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.

Sunderban Tiger Reserve Area

The Sunderbans Tiger Reserve covers an area of approximately 2,585 square kilometers. This includes both the core or critical tiger habitat as well as the buffer zone.

The core or critical tiger habitat of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve covers an area of 1,699.62 square kilometers. This is the primary area that is crucial for the conservation and protection of the Royal Bengal Tiger and its associated wildlife.

The buffer area of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve spans 885.27 square kilometers. The buffer zone acts as a transition area between the core tiger habitat and the surrounding human-dominated landscapes. It helps to provide additional protection to the reserve and supports conservation efforts.

Together, the core and buffer areas make up the total area of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve, which is 2,584.89 square kilometers.

  • Core/Critical Tiger Habitat : 1699.62 sq km
  • Buffer Area : 885.27
  • Total Area : 2584.89

Sunderban Tiger Reserve River

The Sundarbans Tiger Reserve is traversed by several rivers, including:

(1) Ganges River (Hooghly River):

The Ganges River, known as the Hooghly River in the Sundarbans region, is a distributary of the Ganges that flows through the reserve. It is a significant river in the region and plays a vital role in shaping the Sundarbans ecosystem.

(2) Matla River:

The Matla River is a major river that flows through the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve. It originates in the higher reaches of West Bengal and forms an important network of distributaries and tidal creeks within the Sundarbans.

(3) Bidyadhari River:

The Bidyadhari River is another significant river that runs through the Sundarbans. It is a distributary of the Ganges River and contributes to the diverse network of water channels within the reserve.

(4) Raimangal River:

The Raimangal River is a river that flows through the southern part of the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve. It is fed by the distributaries of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers and plays a crucial role in shaping the ecosystem of that region.

(5) Harinbhanga River:

The Harinbhanga River is a river that flows through the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve. It forms a natural border between India and Bangladesh and adds to the intricate network of waterways within the Sundarbans.

Sunderban Tiger Reserve Flora

The flora of the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve is diverse and includes various categories of plant species adapted to the mangrove ecosystem. Here is a breakdown of the different flora categories found in the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve:

(1) True Mangroves or Major Elements: True mangroves are the dominant plant species in the mangrove ecosystem. They are well-adapted to saline conditions, waterlogged soils, and tidal fluctuations. Examples of true mangroves found in the Sunderbans include Sundari (Heritiera fomes), Gewa (Excoecaria agallocha), Goran (Ceriops decandra), Keora (Sonneratia apetala), and others.

(2) Minor Elements of Mangroves or/and Mangrove Associates: These are plant species that are less dominant compared to true mangroves but still have a significant presence in the mangrove ecosystem. They may include species like Kankra (Bruguiera gymnorrhiza), Passur (Xylocarpus mekongensis), and Dhundul (Xylocarpus granatum).

(3) Shrubs: Various shrub species are found in the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve. These shrubs provide understory vegetation and contribute to the overall biodiversity of the region. They may include species such as Nypa palm (Nypa fruticans) and others.

(4) Non-Halophytic Non-Mangrove Associates: These are plant species that are not specific to saline or waterlogged conditions but still occur within the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve. They may include trees like Indian almond (Terminalia catappa), Indian rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo), and others.

(5) Halophytic Herbs, Shrubs, Weeds, and Epiphytes: These are plant species that can tolerate high salinity levels and are adapted to grow in the mangrove environment. They include various herbaceous plants, shrubs, weeds, and epiphytic species.

(6) Parasitic Plants: Some parasitic plant species can be found in the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve. They obtain nutrients from other host plants.

Sunderban Tiger Reserve Fauna (Sunderban Tiger Reserve Animals)

The Sunderbans Tiger Reserve is home to a diverse range of fauna, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and marine life. Here are some notable species found in the Sunderbans Tiger Reserve:


  • Tiger
  • Fishing Cat
  • Gangetic Dolphin
  • Irrawady Dolphin 


  • White-bellied Sea Eagle
  • Black-capped Kingfisher
  • Brahminy Kite
  • Herons
  • Egrets


  • Estuarine Crocodile
  • King Cobra 
  • Water Monitor Lizard

Turtle and Tortoise:

  • Olive Ridley 
  • Green Sea Turtle 
  • Hawksbill Turtle 
  • River Terrapin 

Sundarban Bird Festival UPSC

The first-ever Sundarban Bird Festival (2023) was organized by the Sundarban Tiger Reserve division of the West Bengal Forest Department and that it successfully recorded a significant number of bird species.

The participation of six teams visiting different areas within the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve highlights the effort to explore and document the avian diversity in the region. Recording 78 forest birds, six species of waterfowl, and 42 species of waders and raptors during the festival demonstrates the rich variety of birdlife present in the Sundarbans.

The sighting of 5,065 birds, including threatened species like the Eurasian Curlew and Lesser Sand Plover, is a testament to the ecological significance of the Sundarbans as a habitat for various bird species. Such festivals play a crucial role in raising awareness about bird conservation and promoting the importance of preserving their habitats.

The Sundarban Bird Festival not only provides a platform for bird enthusiasts to observe and appreciate the avian diversity but also contributes to ongoing research and conservation efforts in the region. It is an excellent initiative to promote the conservation of birds and their habitats in the Sundarbans.

Top Things to do in Sunderban Tiger Reserve

When visiting the Sunderban Tiger Reserve, there are several exciting activities and experiences you can engage in. Here are some of the top things to do in the Sunderban Tiger Reserve:

  • Wildlife Safari
  • Boat Cruises
  • Birdwatching
  • Visit Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Mangrove Interpretation Center
  • Village Walks and Cultural Interaction
  • Visit Dobanki Watchtower
  • Photography

Sunderban Tiger Reserve UPSC Questions

Q. Where is Sunderban Tiger Reserve?/What is Sundarban Tiger Reserve?/In which state is Sundarban Tiger Reserve?

A. Sundarbans Tiger Reserve (STR) is located in the South 24- Parganas and North 24-Parganas district of West Bengal, India.

Q. In which year the Sundarban was declared as a tiger reserve?

A. Sundarban was declared as a tiger reserve in 1973.

Sunderban Tiger Reserve

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