Enchanted Forest, Endangered Cats - Sundarbans: A couple wants to continue protecting the habitat of the Royal Bengal Tiger, and raise awareness for the same.
We travelled to Sundarbans, West Bengal, for our final Half Story. Our Do Righter Pankaj had to ditch his bike and catch a cab to reach the river bank.
These river islands in the Sunderbans Delta can only be accessed through boats. And after that, people either walk / cycle to the villages nearby.
We took a boat that conducted awareness programs, and met the kind-hearted and selfless couple - Joydip & Suchandra Kundu, who have dedicated their lives to preserving the natural habitat of the Royal Bengal Tiger.
The destruction of the tigers' habitat, which houses their natural prey like deer, has had several negative consequences. It has forced them to enter villages in search of food. This has led to increased attacks on cattle as well as humans.
The man-animal conflict comes to the fore even when poor villagers go into the forest to collect forest produce like honey. This has led to loss of life on both sides; man as well as beast.
The preservation of mangroves is essential even from an ecological point of view as these forests are a buffer zone providing shelter to the surrounding land mass from storms and typhoons.
Armed with a boat, a DVD player and supported by a crew of 3, they spread awareness about the depleting mangroves and the threat it poses to the tigers by showing conservation films to kids from neighboring villages.
They have been on the road for years now, spreading their message of habitat preservation for the Bengal Tigers to various places. After a long boat ride, Joydip & Suchandra walk for almost 15 kms before they reach their destination.
Currently, the couple relies on a group of informers & forest officials to keep themselves posted on illegal activities like poaching and logging. And they have to be ready whenever they receive information.
If their volunteers had bicycles, it would help them reach places faster and they would be able to spread awareness in distant villages.
This cause is very close to them, they even made personal sacrifices for it. To help complete their Half Story, we asked people to help collect Rs. 14,000 to buy them 4 bicycles.
Thanks to our network of Do Righters, we were able to procure 4 bicycles for them. The volunteers were very proud of their mentors - Joydip & Suchandra, for easing their woes and getting them something they've always wished for. They couldn't stop thanking us and they asked us to thank the Do Righters who made this possible.
As the sun set on yet another beautiful ending to a Half Story, we sent up a silent prayer for this beautiful journey across India. It was one of the most arduous yet rewarding journeys we've been on, and without our compassionate Do Righters, this wouldn't have been possible.