The West Bengal forest department is planning to set up a mangrove resource centre in the Sunderban.
The Sunderban, which spreads over India and Bangladesh, is the world's largest delta and is home to the only mangrove tiger in the world. There are around 96 tigers in the Indian Sunderban.
"We have prepared a detailed project report on a new mangrove centre. This would focus on research on tigers and other wildlife found in the delta, such as estuarine crocodiles and spotted deer," said a senior forest official.
Forest officials said the tiger population in the Sunderban has remained stable in the past year. "In a recent camera trapping exercise, as mandated by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and Wildlife Institute of India, at least 96 tigers could be identified from the various islands of the Sunderban Tiger Reserve and in the forest of South 24 Parganas," said the official.
A similar exercise last year also pegged the number of big cats at 96. While 74 tigers were spotted in the tiger reserve, 22 individuals were spotted in the South 24 Parganas which comprises three forest ranges.
The forest department has also set up a control room at Sajnekhali, one of the 54 islands inhabited by tigers out of the 102 islands of the Sunderbans.
"The control room has been established for monitoring movement of tigers and communication with remote forest camps for protection. We have also prepared a mangrove action plan for five years which would focus on conservation of the mangrove with participation of local communities," said the official.
After the devastation caused by Cyclone Yaas in May this year, the West Bengal government planned to plant 150 million saplings of mangroves in the state's three coastal districts as a future protection against cyclones.
"We would have to take the help of nature to minimise the effect of natural disasters like cyclones. The forest and environment department would plant 150 million mangrove saplings. We would plant 50 million mangrove saplings each in three districts – North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore," chief minister Mamata Banerjee said.
The state planted 50 million mangrove saplings in the Sunderbans after Cyclone Amphan ravaged at least six districts in May 2020, uprooting and damaging thousands of trees in its path. In Kolkata alone, 5,000 trees were uprooted.