The world’s largest mangrove forest Sunderbans took a major hit, consequence of being in the eye of cyclone Aila that caused havoc in parts of West Bengal and Bangladesh. Climate experts have warned of the grim possibility of frequent storms in the area, a direct consequence of global warming and climate change. Aila has laid to waste all work done by the World Wildlife Fund on the southernmost islands to help protect residents from rising sea waters due to global warming.
The entire Sunderbans biosphere reserve area of 9600 square kilometres suffered extensive damage, all major dykes breached and water levels in the numerous creeks and inlets overflowing to dangerous proportions. Over a lakh people and livestock have
been affected to a great degree. Even though resuce and relief operations are being done on a war footing, it throws focus yet again on the pressing issue of climate change and the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Dont forget that the Sunderbans is the natural home to the famed Bengal tiger, endangered and fighting for survival. Though rising waters might not pose a problem, these felines being strong swimmers and more attuned to natural disasters, there is the real possibility of tigers losing their bearing while traversing difficult watery terrain, increasing the possibility of human animal conflict. In fact, one tiger ventured into human habitat at Jameswar village and was tranqulized. Also, they might even die due to exhaustion.
Currently the tiger population is said to be in the low seventies, all the more reason for man to change his stripes and take a proactive stand for eco-conservation and wildlife protection.