Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) published a first ever exhaustive compendium of animal species in the Indian Sundarban and the threats it faces.
- The compendium is titled Fauna of Sundarban Biosphere Reserve.
- The compendium is the first consolidated and updated information of the faunal diversity of the Sundarbans.
- Indian segment of Sundarbans is part of UNESCO World Heritage site.
- It forms part of Ganga-Brahmaputra delta across 9,630 sq. km, distributed among 104 islands.
- It has largest tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world.
Highlights of the compendium:
- The compendium catalogues entire faunal diversity of Sundarban Biosphere Reserve covering 9,630 sq. km spread over 19 blocks in North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas districts of West Bengal.
- According to it, fragile Sundarbans ecosystem region hosts 2,626 animal species that come under zoological kingdom of Animalia, and 140 under more primitive Protista. It also includes diverse 25 phyla.
- Famous Bengal tigers adapted to aquatic conditions have been documented. 50 mammalian species are also documented including the Asian small-clawed Otter, Gangetic Dolphin, Grey and Marsh Mongoose. Wild Rhesus Monkey, only primate found in Sunderbans is also documented.
- The mammal numbers are declining in Sunderbans due to pressure on habitat from people and natural threats that have shrunk mangrove swamp habitat.
- Two Rhinos, Swamp deer, Barking deer and Hog deer and Asiatic Wild Water Buffalo no more are not found in Sundarbans.
- There are 356 species of birds, including raptors (birds of prey).
- Other birds found here are Osprey, Brahminy Kite, White-Bellied Sea Eagle, Rose-ringed parakeets, flycatchers and warblers. Kingfishers are found abound and Sundarbans has nine of them.
- The mangrove ecosystem covers about 350 species of fish. Cartilaginous fish make up 10.3%. The IUCN conservation status shows 6.3% fish are near-threatened and 4.85% are threatened.
- Also, there are 173 molluscs. Moreover, Crustaceans — crabs, shrimp and prawns — constitute 334 species. Besides, ten species of frogs and toads are found.
- There are 11 turtles, including the famous Olive Ridley, Hawskbill sea turtles and most threatened freshwater River Terrapin.
- The region has 753 insect species. Of these, 210 are butterflies and moths. Crocodile, 13 lizards including three species of Monitor Lizards and five Geckos are also found.
- The rivers, creeks channels and islands together harbour about 30 snake species including monocled cobra, Russell’s viper, common and banded kraits.