Sundarbans: Karamjal ranger saves the crocodiles

With a unique crocodile breeding program, a 46 feet high watch tower and a 1,800-meter long elevated walkway through the Sundarbans, Karamjal near Mangla is the most visited site in the mangrove forest of Bangladesh.
Every year around 2,50000 visitors take the 40-minute trip on boats from Mangla to have a first hand experience of the Sundarbans’ natural treasures. Lucky ones have even had encounters with the king, the Bengal Tiger.

Karamjal in fact brings a respite for the eager men and women wanting to visit the natural wonder in a short period of time. The return trip with the site seeing could be completed in two and a half hours if you are pressed for time. But for the nature lovers the place could offer a stay for eternity.
From Mangla one could at any time hire a traditional Sampan (mechanized and a safe capacity of 12 people) for around Tk 1000 for the return trip depending on the time spent at the site. Or for a bigger party a big conventional boat could cost up to Tk 2000 or more for the return trip.
You have to remember you are crossing one of the fiercest rivers Pashur to Karamjal. As you cross the river you are confronted with rows of huts along the Pashur. The huts are none other than the famous Baniashanta, one of the last remaining brothels in the country. Baniashanta accommodates some 150 sex workers, most of whom live with their families.
Karamjal forest office charges each local visitor Tk 20 plus VAT and a foreigner Tk 300 plus VAT. You may stay as long as you want for the day but it is always advised that you return to Mangla around sunset.
Abdur Rob, the Ranger o f the Karamjal forest office has been working in the Sundarbans since 1994.  For the last 14 years he has been looking after the wildlife and the biodiversity of the Sundarbans in Karamjal. Highly dedicated, Rob took over the job of  saving the critically endangered crocodiles of the Sundarbans under a project called  Sundarbans Management and Support.
With almost no resources in hand, Rob worked day and night to bring the crocodile project to a success. Today Rob boasts of having released 87 crocodiles in the Sundarbans, each five to six years old and at least two meters long. In his pens now Rob is rearing 250 crocodiles.

The saltwater crocodile of the Sundarbans has been hunted for centuries. The fishermen hated them as they thought crocodiles ate their share of fish. So whenever a crocodile was netted, the fishermen would just kill it. For Rob the first challenge was to convince the fishermen not to kill the baby crocodiles.
“Initially I held meetings with the fishermen and told them to hand me over any crocodile they netted and soon my efforts paid off,” Rob says proudly. “I started to rear three crocodiles with care.”
After years of painstaking nursing these three crocodiles — a male and two female —  are now kept in a pond and used for breeding in captivity.  Romeo the male and Julliet and Pilpil, the females, happily live in the pond producing offspring every year and helping save one of the oldest animals of the planet from extinction.  Karamjal also has a deer breeding facility but the deer population in the Sundarbans has been well-balanced with the forest and does not pose immediate threat.
The most amazing thing in Karamjal, despite the presence of thousands of visitors it is still the territory of a three-member tiger family comprising a male and two females.

“Every week or sometimes every alternative week the tiger family stalks the forest office and earmarks its territory anew with urine and sap,” Rob says adding that when they come, “the herd of deer in the enclosure becomes very agitated and we are immediately alerted about the presence of the mighty Bengalis within our boundary”.
Tips for the trip:
Where to stay in Mangla : Hotel Pasur of the Parjatan Corporation of Bangladesh (Recommended), Phone 0466 275100
Story by: Morshed Ali Khan

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Posted by on Jun 11 2014. Filed under Home Slide, Nature, Travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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