The home of the royal Bengal tiger is also the abode of one third of species of birds found in the country, according to Birds of the Sundarban Biosphere Reserve, a recent study published by the Zoological Survey of India.
According to the study, out of the 1,332 species of birds found in the country, 428 species are in Sunderbans which is also a Ramsar Site. The publication contains photographs of all the species and the pockets they are likely to be found in.
It states that nine out of the 12 species of kingfishers are found in the Sunderbans. The Sunder bans mangrove forest, which is one of the largest such forest in the world, is also an important habitat for goliath heron and spoon billed sandpiper. The elusive masked finfoot can also be spotted here.
The publication has been put together by Kailash Chandra, director of ZSI, Gopinathan Maheshwaran from the bird section of the ZSI and Amitava Majumder, a research associate with ZSI.
“This survey is a part of the continuous study of the avifauna of Sunderbans. We have also sourced inputs from forest department officials, bird-watchers, local people and even tourists,” said Kailash Chandra, the director of ZSI.
Sunderbans has always been known for its water birds and water dependant birds but the new findings highlight how Sunderbans is a treasure trove of natural resources and diverse fauna and flora.
There have been surveys on the presence of birds in the mangroves even earlier, but this is the first time a study has confirmed that Sunderbans is also home to country’s one third species of birds apart from being the home of the Bengal tiger.
“There are some species which are found only in Sunderbans like the buffy fish owl. It is found in other south east Asian countries but in India, its home is in Sunderbans. Nine species of kingfishers are found in the mangroves. Almost one third of all the species of birds in the country are found in Sunderbans,” said Chandra. “This study can be of interest to birdwatchers to students and even forest enthusiasts.”
Scientists who have compiled the study said there might be some “doubtful species” but even with an error margin of five percent, Sunderbans remains home to most species of birds.