We had the privilege to interview Soumyajit Nandy about the incredible work he does in the Sundarbans! Below you will find the entire interview along with photos and links to more information. The Sundarbans have some of the most incredible and diverse ecosystems on the entire planet. Please visit http://www.goingwild.in/ for more information!
Question 1. Do you find that the tigers in the Sundarbans are tougher to find than in other areas of India and if so, why are they harder to track?
Answer to question 1: "Yes. Sundarban tigers are difficult to find. This is because of the terrain and vegetation of this mangrove forest. Sundarban is a maze of forested islands surrounded by rivers which come from the sea. Tourist movement is restricted to these waterways and getting down on land to explore is not allowed. Only [a] few protection camps have facilities where tourist can get down and do a short walk up to the watchtower. These camps are fenced from all sides and does not provide much opportunity to see wildlife. Hence, most of the tiger sightings happen when they come near the river. Also, since the vegetation is extremely dense, a tiger remains unnoticed even if it is there a feet or two inside the thickets. Tiger density (individual per sq km) too is low here due to low prey base."
Question 2. What work is involved when tracking a tiger in that region?
Answer to Question 2: "Tracking a tiger is an art in itself and can not be summarized in a short paragraph. However, please check this https://sundarbantigersandmore.com/2017/10/15/how-i-get-to-see-so-many-tigers-in-sundarban/ and let me know if you need more inputs on anything."
Question 3. How long have you been working with these tigers and what other animals have you encountered in the mangrove?
Answer to question 3: "Though I have started visiting [the] Sundarban from 2008, it's been only 4 years that I have concentrated more on the tigers. Sundarban is a ecological hot-spot and many other important species like Fishing Cat, Leopard Cat, Jungle Cat, Oriental Small-clawed Otter, Irrawaddy Dolphin, King Cobra, Red-tailed (Bamboo) Pit Viper, Buffy Fish Owl, Changebale Hawk Eagle (dark morph), Goliath Heron, Brown-winged Kingfisher, Salt-water Crocodile, Olive Ridley Turtle etc. are found here."
Question 4. What do Sundarban tigers typically hunt for food?
Answer to question 4: Sundarban tigers eat anything and everything around which moves. At times they have been seen scavenging on carcass too which flows from the human habitation to the forest. Spotted Deer and Wild Boars are the only regular large sized prey available here.
Question 5. There is a negative stigma around that region due to so many people reporting man eating tigers, is this actually true? Please explain in detail.
Answer to Question 5: Please refer my previous answer. Yes, they do hunt human beings too as we form a part of their prey-base. However, tigers of Sundarban do not come out of forest and hunt humans in the habitation. Causalities happen when humans enter the forest for fishing, honey or crab collection, woodcutting etc. Most of the attack happens when one get down to the land, moves inside a very narrow creek or goes extremely close to the shore.
Question 6. What conservational changes would you like to see implemented in order to better protect this region?
Answer to question 6: My opinion is to leave Sundarban to itself. This forest is self-sufficient and strong enough to protect itself.