Surving the Sundarbans

PhotographerAnupam Chanda
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

The largest delta on the planet The Sundarbans is a demanding home to those who live there. It requires much to survive, regardless of gender. This huge delta is a geo-morphological and hydrological wonder making living there a feat to document. The approx 300 tigers that live here are part of the Sundarbans mystery, it is here in these thick masses of tree roots, writhing mud, and hungry water that tigers stalk humans as prey. The Sunderbans is famous for its tiger attacks and is one of the only areas in the world where 'man eaters' exist in their natural habitat in close proximity to humans. On of the best place to capture human survival.


The largest delta on the planet The Sundarbans is a demanding home to those who live there. It requires much to survive, regardless of gender. Living and working in the Sundarbans is dangerous. And just as the men, women’s lives are equally challenging here. Their lives are shrouded mostly around prayers to Bonobibi, humility and gratitude, ingenuity, and tolerance, yet they do not have the power of the Goddess. The women of the Sundarbans are practically unknown outside their direct social relationships. Women here manage the household as usual and often help the family survive financially. Some of them cultivate on family plots while others fish. Prawn fishing is a particularly dangerous job. Women and children move through the waters waist or neck deep, dragging nets behind them to catch their prey. Each year there are cases of women and children lost to crocodiles and tigers but the battle to survive rages on. Sundarbans women tend to marry early , sometimes as early as twelve but when they lose husbands from tiger attacks, particularly if their husbands were not permitted to enter the forest to take fish/honey/wood, they often are forced out of their homes with their children and made to live in widow villages. Here they become sole providers for their families and take on the roles traditionally taken by the men - wood cutting, honey collecting, and fishing. Healthcare irrespective of socio-economic background is dependent on quacks for treatment over the rural healthcare providers for a number of reasons varying from geographical hazards to cost effectiveness. They are extremely popular for their proximity and patient's easy availability. Chronic poverty and most importantly a weak public healthcare system forces the majority of the population to depend & believe in alternate methods of health care. As we know Himalayan glaciers are receding rapidly due to global warming and the rate of retreat in the last three decades is over three times than the rate in earlier years . Glacier retreat has implications for downstream river flows which is reflected through lowering of salinity in Sundarbans. Tiger straying indicates that salinity is penetrating deeper into the forests with more and more tigers straying from south to north. Of the 104 islands 48 are left with forest cover only on their fringes and a tiger needs to ambush its prey before killing it. Due to less forest cover tigers are finding it difficult to hunt and are straying into villages for easy prey. Experts say a rise in salinity will further degrade the coastal water quality and reduce the overall system productivity.