Environmental News from India:
- The Sundarbans, the world’s largest stretch of mangroves that span India and Bangladesh, is a rich ecosystem of hundreds of species of flora and fauna. It’s also rich with natural resources for the communities living nearby, but is considered an ecosystem under threat.
- In a first-of-its-kind conservation effort, the Bangladesh government is implementing a complete ban on entry into the forest for three months, from July to August, which it says is the breeding season for the local wildlife.
- The communities surrounding the mangroves, who depend on the forests for food and resources, say this ban will affect their livelihoods and push them into hardship.
- Conservationists have also labelled the ban “inappropriate” and expressed concern about its timing — given that not all species here share the same breeding season — and its target, saying that tourists, and not local communities, are responsible for much of the pollution and disruption to the ecosystem.
On June 1, Bangladesh implemented a total ban on entry into the Sundarbans mangrove forest for three months. The ban applies not only to tourists but also the communities that live around the forest and depend on it.
The ban, which the Bangladeshi government plans to enforce every year for three months — June, July and August — is meant to ensure an undisturbed environment for wildlife during the breeding season, according to the government.
The Sundarbans, the world’s largest contiguous mangrove forest, form a unique habitat for more than 450 wildlife species, including Bengal tigers (Panthera tigris tigris), Ganges river dolphins (Platanista gangetica), Indian pythons (Python molurus), saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus), various monkey species, dozens of fish, and hundreds of birds. Three wildlife sanctuaries in Bangladesh — Sundarbans East, Sundarbans West and Sundarbans South — are enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. More than 330 species of trees, shrubs and epiphytes make up the landscape of these rich mangrove forests.
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