Flora & Fauna in Bangladesh
More than 650 species of birds & Home to the Royal Bengal Tiger

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The forests of Bangladesh cover about 10% of the country and fall distinctly into three regional varieties: the forest in the tidal zones along the coast, mostly Sundarbans (often mangrove but sometimes hardwood); the forest of Sal trees (hardwood) around Dhaka, Tangail and Mymensingh; and the forests of tropical and subtropical evergreens in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and parts of Sylhet. Half of the remaining forest is in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and a further quarter in the Sundarbans, with the rest scattered in small pockets throughout the country. Even away from the forests, Bangladesh is a land of trees. Lining the old Grand Trunk Road in the west are huge rain trees, and every village is an arboreal oasis, often with spectacular Banyan or Ashot trees. The red Silk-cotton or Kapok tree is easily spotted throughout the countryside in February and March, when it loses its leaves and sprouts a myriad of red blossoms. Teak was introduced to the Hill Tracts in the last century, and the quality  approaches that of Myanmar and is much better than Indian teak.

Each season produces its special variety of flowers in Bangladesh; among them, the prolific Water Hyacinth flourishes. Its carpet of thick green leaves and blue flowers gives the impression that solid ground lies underneath. Other decorative plants, which are widely spread are Jasmine, Water Lily, Rose, Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, Magnolia, and an incredible diversity of wild orchids in the forested areas.

Bangladesh is home to the Royal Bengal Tiger and others of the cat family, such as leopards and the smaller fishing and jungle cats. Tigers are almost exclusively confined to the Sundarbans, but their smaller relatives prey on domestic animals all over the country. There are three varieties of civet, including the Large Indian Civet which is now listed as an endangered species. Other large animals include Asiatic elephants (mostly migratory herds from India), a few black bears in Chittagong division, wild pigs and deer. Monkeys, languor, gibbons (the only ape in the subcontinent), otters and mangooses are some of the smaller animals. Wild buffalo and rhinoceros were recorded in Bangladesh, but all became extinct in the last century.

Reptiles include the sea tortoise, mud turtle, river tortoise, crocodile, python, king cobra and a variety of other poisonous snakes. The voluble gecko lizard is appropriately known here as tik-tiki. Marine life includes a wide variety of both river and sea fish.

Bangladesh can boast of being the habitat to more than 650 species of birds, almost half of those found on the entire subcontinent. Tucked in between the Indian subcontinent and the Malayan peninsulas, Bangladesh attracts both Indian species in the west and north of the country, and the Malayan species in the east and south-east. It is also conveniently located for the migratory birds heading south towards Malaysia and Indonesia and those moving south west to India and Sri Lanka. In addition, there are a number of Himalayan and Burmese hill species, which move into the lowlands during winter. Despite the fact that many of these species are rare or localized and that the overall number of birds has rapidly declined in the past two decades, bird watching in Bangladesh is very rewarding.

Not far from Dhaka, in the Modhupur Forest, is an extremely important habitat under national protection. This area is great for a variety of owls, including the popular and rare Brown Wood Owl, wintering thrushes and a number of raptors. The Jamuna River floods the area regularly and provides winter habitats for water fowl, waders, and occasionally the Black Stork from December to February.

Lying close to the Himalayas, the Sylhet area has extensive natural depressed lands locally called ‘haors’ (pronounced ‘howers’, wetlands). During the winter season they are home to huge flocks of wild fowl.  Outstanding species include the rare Baer’s pochard and Pallas’ fishing eagle, along with a great number of ducks and skulkers. Other important habitats are the remaining fragments of evergreen and teak forests, especially along the Indian border near the Srimongal area. The blue-bearded bee-eater, red breasted trogan and a wide variety of forest birds, including rare visitors, are regularly seen in these forests. One of two important coastal zones is the Noakhali region, with emphasis on the islands near Hatiya, where migratory species and a variety of wintering waders find suitable refuge. These include large numbers of the rare spoonbilled sandpiper, Nordman’s greenshank and flocks of Indian skimmers.

The Sundarbans, the second and most important coastal zone, is the richest area for all kinds of wildlife and the most difficult to penetrate. With its miles of marshy shorelines and brackish creeks, it supports a great number of wetland and forest species, along with large populations of gulls and terns along the south coast. Nine varieties of kingfishers have been recorded here including the brown-winged, white-collard, black-capped and the rare ruddy kingfisher.

Abundance of Bangladesh's bird life makes it an ornithologist's paradise. Of the 525-recorded species, 350 are resident. Among them are bulbul, magpie, robin, common game birds, cuckoos, hawks, owls, crows, kingfishers, woodpeckers, parrots and myna. A wide variety of warblers are also found. Some of them are migrants and appear only in winter. The migratory and seasonal birds are pre-dominantly ducks.
Of the 200 species of mammals, the pride of place goes to the Royal Bengal Tiger of the Sunderbans, the largest block of littoral forests spreading over an area of 6,000 sq. km. Next comes the elephants found mainly in the forests of the Chittagong Hill Tracts districts. South Himalayan black bear and the Malayan bear are also seen here. Six types of deer are found in the hill tracts and the Sunderbans. Of them the spotted deer, barking deer and sambar is the most familiar. Clouded leopard, leopard cat, mongoose, jackal and rhesus monkey are also found. Among the bovine animals, three species- buffalo, ox and gayal- are found. There are about 150 species of reptiles of which the sea turtle, river tortoise, mud turtle, crocodiles, gavial, python, krait and cobra and common. About 200 species of marine and freshwater fish are also found. Prawns and lobsters are available in plenty for local consumption and export. In the shallow water of the floodplains, ponds and swamps of the country various hydrophytes and floating ferns grow in abundance. Tall grasses present a picturesque site near the banks of the rivers and the marshes. Around 60% of the Gangetic plain is under rice paddy and jute cultivation. The village homes are usually concealed by the lush green foliage of a wide variety of trees, thickets of bamboo and banana plants. A characteristic feature of the landscape is the presence of a variety of palm and fruit trees.
Each season produces its special variety of flowers in Bangladesh; among them, the prolific Water Hyacinth flourishes. Its carpet of thick green leaves and blue flowers gives the impression that solid ground lies underneath. Other decorative plants, which are widely spread are Jasmine, Water Lily, Rose, Hibiscus, Bougainvillea, Magnolia, and an incredible diversity of wild orchids in the forested areas. Lying close to the Himalayas, the Sylhet area has extensive natural depressed lands locally called 'haors' (pronounced 'howers', wetlands). During the winter season they are home to huge flocks of wild fowl. Outstanding species include the rare Baer's pochard and Pallas' Fish Eagle, along with a great number of ducks. Other important habitats are the remaining fragments of evergreen and teak forests, especially along the Indian border near the Srimongal area. The Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Redheaded Trogon and a wide variety of forest birds, including rare visitors are seen in these forests. One of two important coastal zones is the Noakhali region, with emphasis on the islands near Hatiya, where migratory species and a variety of wintering waders find suitable refuge. These include rare viitors like Spoon billed Sandpiper, Nordman's Greenshank and flocks of Indian Skimmers.
The forest cover of Bangladesh is only about 9 percent. The thickest forests are in the coastal Sunderbans and the hill tracts in the northeast. Extensive areas of Rajshahi, Dinajpur and Kushtia are under mango, litchi, sugarcane and tobacco cultivation



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