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December 12th, 2014

Oh the poor, poor Sunderbans…

Just 10 days ago, we were in the Sundarbans, a fascinating part of West Bengal, right on the Bangladeshi border.  To fill in the blank for those of you who might not know too much about this region, I’ll be lazy and quote good old Wikipedia:

“It is the largest single block of tidal mangrove forest in the world. The Sundarbans covers approximately 10,000 square kilometres (3,900 sq mi) of which 60 percent is in Bangladesh with the remainder in India. The Sundarbans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

The main thing one hopes to see in the Sunderbans is a tiger, for amazingly enough tigers live in this difficult swampy, salt-water terrain.  We saw ne’er hide nor hair of a tiger –  and to be honest, all wildlife was pretty thin on the ground…4 crocs, 2 monitors, 2 deer…that kind of low “score”, but the trip was great fun nonetheless.  Discovering a part of the country we had both always wanted to visit, travelling with good friends, charming, utterly charming lodge on a little island, brilliant food, wonderfully friendly people.

Knowing now a little more about the Sunderbans, and about how difficult it is to eke out a living there, my heart broke when I read this story today.

350 tonnes of oil have spilled into the Sunderbans on the Bangladesh side, in one of 3 dolphin sanctuaries.  These are supposed to be no go areas, in order to protect the threatened Irrawady dolphin but…you can guess the rest…

sundrebans

What a mess, and in such a desperately poor, isolated part of the world.

Read the account below and weep for wildlife that is already so endangered :

dolphins

The tragedy is that everything and everyone will be affected –  the mangroves, the water, the fish, the wildlife,the villagers.

India_Sunderbans_9631

 

India_Sunderbans_9729

I just hope this mess can be contained and that it doesn’t spill over into the Indian Sunderbans.

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