As per the latest findings, continuous loss of biodiversity is observed across the shorelines of settlement zones in Indian Sundarbans.
Issues and challenges:
Small patches of mangroves are being lost gradually and quietly due to their indiscriminate destruction for either coastal development or short-term gains.
These patches are observed to be enriched habitats of several rare and threatened flora and fauna.
The continued loss of shoreline mangrove ecosystems has created fragmented and fragile mangrove habitats for rare taxa and framed barriers to their movement and dispersal.
This irreversible loss of biodiversity is often neglected, which could never be compensated with any ‘cut the established and plant the new’ theory.
What can be done:
The Sunderbans are affected due to the polluted discharges from shrimp ponds.
So, instead of popularising shrimp farming, if more indigenous fishing activities were encouraged, coastal threatened biodiversity could be protected and at the same time livelihood options may be provided to the coastal dwellers.
About Indian Sundarbans:
Covers 4,200 sq. km and includes the Sunderban Tiger Reserve of 2,585 sq. km — home to about 96 royal Bengal tigers (as per the last census in 2020).
It is a world heritage site and a Ramsar site (a wetland site designated to be of international importance).
It is also home to a large number of “rare and globally threatened species, such as the critically endangered northern river terrapin (Batagur baska), the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris), and the vulnerable fishing cat (Prionailurus viverrinus).”
Two of the world’s four horseshoe crab species, and eight of India’s 12 species of kingfisher are also found here. Recent studies claim that the Indian Sundarban is home to 2,626 faunal species and 90% of the country’s mangrove varieties.