Ten Wonders of the Sundarbans
by Jan Fenimore
(Rio Rancho, NM, USA)
One hungry tiger hunting down his prey;
Two pink dolphins swimming in a bay.
Three giant turtles burying eggs in the sand;
Four wild boar roaming the swampy land.
Five mudskipper fish sitting in a tree;
Six poisonous snakes living in the sea.
Seven chital deer chewing something good;
Eight scaly crocodiles waiting for some food.
Nine Rhesus monkeys grabbing at their tails;
Ten honey hunters carrying gold in their pails.
Royal Bengal Tigers
One - in the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve located mostly in India but also in the country of Bangladesh, live close to 500 Royal Bengal Tigers. The tigers hunt at night covering up to 12 miles of territory. They can eat 77 pounds of meat in one sitting. A tiger will eat almost anything and in this area they even eat people. Those who do are mostly old or sick but up to 300 people are killed a year. The tigers of this area are an endangered species.
Two - the pink dolphins that live in the Sundarbans are actually river dolphins. Smaller than their ocean cousins, they spend their days swimming along the bottoms of rivers searching for food. Their diet consists of crabs, catfish, other small fish and small turtles. Their pink color darkens when they are excited or surprised. The gangetic dolphins of the area are an endangered species.
Three - giant turtles dig nests in the sand on the beaches and lay their eggs there. They lay as few as 100 or as many as 140 eggs. The eggs hatch in 45 - 51 days. Giant turtles can be as long as 51 inches and weigh as much as 660 pounds. The Oliver-Ridley turtles of this area are an endangered species.
Four - wild boar are hairy pig-like animals with razor sharp tusks and hoofs. Their main diet consists of grass, nuts, berries, insects and small reptiles. They are a favorite prey of the Royal Bengal Tiger.
Five - mudskippers, a most unusual fish, are as comfortable on land as in water. They use their pectoral fins to move around on the land using skipping motions and can jump as high as two feet. They can survive out of water for a couple of hours and have been spotted sitting on tree branches during this period. Their diet consists of small crabs and other fish.
Poisonous Sea Snakes
Six - poisonous sea snakes have flattened paddlelike tails. Their venom is more deadly than that of a cobra. The good news is they rarely bite humans.
Seven - chital deer exist in large numbers in the Sundarbans. Their favorite meals are tall grass and shrubs. They make a barking sound when alarmed. The chital's coat is a pinkish fawn color with white spots.
Eight - the saltwater crocodiles, know as "salties", are an endangered species in the Sundarbans. They live in the rivers and swamps of the area and move to the sea in the dry season. The crocodile will eat anything that comes into their territory, even humans, but can actually survive months without food. Their favorite pastime is to bask in the sun.
Nine - the Rhesus monkeys are typically from Asia. Their coats are brown or grey and their faces, pink. Not only are they tree climbers but they also swim. They are highly social and live in communes. Their diet consists of fruit, seeds, roots, cereals and insects. They are considered pests in urban areas, stealing not only food but small household items, as well.
Ten - villagers living in the area of the Sundarbans risk bee bites, tiger attacks and many other dangers to collect what they consider liquid gold, honey. The hunting is mostly done during the spring months, March through May. Some honey is used by the hunter's family and the rest is sold giving the poor people of the area much needed income.