Training & Workshop Tender
Tiger Census
Multilateral Agreements
Management of Sundarban
Man-Animal Conflict
People & Cultural
Trans-boundary ecosystem
Budget & Funding
Problems & Critical Issues
Eco Development & JFM
UNDP Project
The Flora
The Fauna
Eco Tourism
Contact Us

Mangrove and aquatic Fauna

History of Faunal Changes over the last two centuries

According to Hunter's Statistical Account of Sundarban, written in 1878, "Tigers, Leopards, Rhinoceros, Wild Buffaloes, Wild Hogs, Wild Cats, Barasinga, Spotted Deer, Hog Deer, Barking Deer, and Monkeys are the principal varieties of wild animals found in Sundarbans". However, over the last 100 years or so, due to habitat degradation and ecological changes, the faunal compositions in Indian Sundarbans have undergone changes. Some of these animals in Sundarbans became extinct during the last two centuries like Javan Rhino, Wild buffalo, Swamp deer and Barking deer.

Present status of faunal resources

Sundarban mangrove forest is the single largest home of the Royal Bengal Tiger( Panthera tigris ).
Sundarban is also the only mangrove forest in the world having the tiger as its indigenous population. As per 2004 census, the tiger population in Indian Sundarban is around 274, out of which Sundarban Tiger Reserve and South 24-Parganas Forest Division have 249 Tigers and 25 tigers respectively. There are 58 species of mammals, 55 species of reptiles and around 248 bird species.

Sundarbans also harbors a good number of rare and globally threatened animals including Estuarine Crocodile ( Crocodilus porosus ), Fishing Cat ( Felis viverrina ), Common otter ( Lutra lutra ), Water Monitor lizard ( Varanus salvator ), Gangetic Dolphin ( Platinista gangetica ), Snubfin dolphin ( Orcella brevirostris ), River Terrapin (Batagur baska ), marine turtles like Olive Ridley ( Lepidochelys olivacea ), Green Sea Turtle ( Chelonia mydas ), Hawksbill Turtle ( Eritmochelys imbricata ). Six species of Shark and Ray, which are found here, are included in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act. These indicate that Sundarban Reserved Forest is a natural biodiversity hot spot.

Other mammals comprise of Wild boars, Spotted deer, Porcupines and Rhesus macaque. Among the reptiles, the King cobra, the common cobra, Banded krait, Russells Viper comprise the community of venomous reptiles, while the Python, Chequered Kil-Back, Dhaman , Green Whip Snake and several other species constitute the non-venomous snakes.


There are 248 species of birds including a large number of migrants from the higher latitudes that visit the area in winter. It consists of Herons, Egrets, Cormorants, Storks, Green Pigeons, Sand Pipers, Large and Small Spoonbills, Darters, Seagulls, Teal, Partridges, great variety of Wild Geese and Ducks.


Cetaceans like Snubfin (Irrawady) and Gangetic Dolphin are frequently found in the estuarine rivers, the former being more abundant. The Black Finless Porpoise ( Necmeris porosus ) is also found in the rivers near the estuary. The marshes and river offer asylum to the Estuarine Crocodile, one of the most endangered and the largest of crocodiles. A wide variety and assortments of fish, molluscs, crabs and prawns inhabit the estuaries. The amphibious mud-skipper fish such as Periopthalmus sp. and Boleopthalmus sp. arouse considerable interest. Also found are Whale Shark, Tiger Shark, Hammer Headed Shark, Saw fish, Guitar fish and some common edible fish e.g., Hilsa ilisha , Setipinna breviceps , Setipinna taty , Gudusia chapra etc. Among the crustaceans, commonly found are the One Armed Fiddler Crab ( Uca spp) and the two species of trilobite ( Tachypleus gigus and Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda) . The latter is also known as the Horse Shoe Crab, which is known as a living fossil and needs serious protection owing to its medicinal value and uncontrolled collection by quack doctors for commercial purpose.

Insects :

Insects abound in the forests amongst which the honey bee ( Apis dorsata ) is a source of considerable income for the poor people living in fringe areas.

Faunal Diversity at a glance :

  • Vertebrate Spp = 481
  • Hemichordate Spp = 1
  • Invertebrate Spp = 1104
  • Protozoan species = 106
  • Mammals = 58
  • Birds = 248
  • Reptiles = 55

Eight sub-species of Tiger in the world :

Still surviving

  • Bengal tiger
  • Siberian tiger
  • Indo-Chinese tiger
  • South China tiger
  • Sumatran tiger


  • Caspian tiger
  • Javan tiger
  • Bali tiger



Best view resolution : 1024 x 768

Copyright ©2006 Sundarban Biosphere Reserve