Last week the office was closed for Eid, so I decided to explore the country! I took a boat trip to the South-West part of the country, which is called the Sundarbans. I met some great people and it was nice to have a little get-away. I’m still compiling my pictures and stories from the trip, but I wanted to give you all some quick facts about the Sundarbans to prep you for my next blog.
Did you know….?
- There are 54 species of mangrove trees worldwide,and 26 are found in the Sundarbans. Mangroves are known for being able to live with varying temperatures, water levels, and salinity.
- The world’s largest population of tigers lives in this area. There are approximately 400 Bengal tigers, which is 10% of the total world population of tigers.
- Guide Tours (my tour company) is one of the best tour companies in Bangladesh, and is heavily involved in research and conservation efforts in the region.
- Bangladesh is hit regularly by cyclones, with big natural disasters every few years. The trees in the Sundarbans are super versatile, and help to protect the country from the floods that would otherwise devastate the the large cities in the interior.
- Other animals include monkeys, butterflies, crabs, crocodiles, deer, cobras, wild boar, river dolphins, and over 300 species of birds.
- The tide changes dramatically throughout the day, with 2 “high tides” and 2 “low tides”in each 24 hour cycle. It’s important to look at your tide table before going on an adventure, since it will affect how fast your boat can go (whether you’re going with or against the tide). People have also become trapped and drowned while hiking when they do not get back to high ground (or their boat) fast enough after they notice the tide is coming in!
- The Sundarbans National Park is free for locals, but visitors must pay a daily fee of 800 taka ($14). If taking a boat tour, you are required to pick up armed guards on your way into the park, to take with you on hikes and protect you from wild animals.
- Even locals don’t live in the forest, unless they are performing one of three jobs: fishing (sometime using otters!), cutting lumber, or collecting honey (in April and May). Honey collecting is very dangerous, and they must light fires so that the smoke will keep the bees calm. One collector will climb the tree to get to the hives, and the bees are known for being particularly vicious and chasing people quite a far distance.
- Even though the area is similar to a swamp, the salt water means there aren’t any mosquitoes (or risk of malaria) in the area.
- Tigers kill approximately 20-30 people each year, mostly local fishermen (mom, aren’t you glad I told you this only after my trip? Lol..)
Stay tuned (later this week) for all of my stories and pictures from the trip 🙂
Check out Part 3: Cruising down the Meghna River