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Sundarbans National Park is part of the vast and swampy tidal delta of India’s two great rivers, the Brahamaputra and the Ganges. It is home to numerous birds and mammals – including over 250 tigers (albeit elusive).

Located 100 kilometres southeast of Kolkata in West Bengal State, this large watery park contains swamps, islands and forests. The huge mangrove forest at the park’s core is home to tigers that are well adapted to the saline environment and, unlike many cats, are extremely good swimmers. Winter is the best time to see them as they sun themselves on sandbanks beside the water.

Other wildlife that may be viewed in the park includes chital deer, rhesus monkey, water monitor and crocodile. Sundarbans is also noted for its conservation of the Ridley sea turtles that nest on Kanak Island. Haliday Island is also noted for being the last retreat of barking deer in India, and Bhagabatpur is famous for its hatchery of the largest estuarine crocodiles in the world.

Over 180 species of birds have been recorded in the Sunderbans, and birders should visit Sajnakhali Sanctuary, which is home to seven colourful species of kingfisher, white-bellied sea eagle, plovers, lapwings, curlews, whimbrels, sandpipers and pelicans among others. Sundarbans National Park is only accessible by boat.

Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: fishing cat, mangrove pitta, masked mangrove whistler, tiger, leopard cat
  • Where: West Bengal State, India