Sighting the tiger in the Sunderbans is a thrilling experience. The excitement builds up in Kolkata from where the journey begins. The Sunderbans, situated along the southern tip of West Bengal, is 4,262 sq km of watery wilderness, of which 2,585 sq km are part of the tiger reserve. The area is a UNESCO world heritage site, being a unique example of an estuarine mangrove ecosystem.
The Royal Bengal Tiger is lord of the jungle. The 2011 tiger census puts the number of tigers in the region at 270. It is the only tiger that lives in a mangrove forest. There are several watch towers inside the forest which offer a panoramic view of the surrounding forest. Waterholes have been dug in the areas to attract wild animals. It is possible to see spotted deer, monkeys, fishing cats, wild boars and crocodiles. There is also a turtle hatchery that takes care of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles.
One particularly interesting fish that is found here is the mudskipper, a gobioid that climbs out of the water into mudflats and even climbs trees. The mudflats and creeks harbour a lot of birds, among them are such rarities as the Masked Finfoot, Mangrove Pitta and the Mangrove Whistler.