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Keepers of Sundarbans

In Sundarbans, women whose husbands have died in tiger attacks are locally known as "Tiger Widows." They often face social stigma and exclusion from social and cultural participation. In the remote village of Dayapur in the Sundarbans, some Tiger widows are challenging the stigma through leading conservation efforts. They collect mangrove seeds, grow them in nurseries, and then plant them along riverbanks. They also care for properly growing trees and protect them from harm. In this process, they find solace as they still have a connection with their husbands through the trees, where they rest in peace in the lap of the forest.

“My husband Arjun Mondal first made the nursery of Sundari trees in our own house. The embankment is near the houses and has a continuous stretch of jungle. However, it is reducing day by day. Along with the reduction of trees, the strength of the embankment is also reducing. Sundarbans is itself named after the Sundari tree which is declining. The saplings are grown in the nursery and then it is planted along the embankment. This work is done by the widows. His main thought was that if trees are not planted, the jungle will die and the river will also lose control. So, he worked with the tiger widows to plant trees along with their family members. Other than planting saplings, these widows also have to work in other places to earn a living. Just like we are worried about the welfare of trees and embankments being the natives here, other people also think but we do not get much financial support. We need to protect the forest. I am Pushpa Mondal my husband died in 2018, on 29th July in the jungle of Sarakkhali jungle, Sundarbans due to a tiger attack.”  Jhanti Goran Tree / Ceriops Decandra (Name of the mangrove species Local/Scientific )

“My name is Ekadashi Sardar, and my husband’s name is Jagatbondhu Sardar. My husband died in 2015 due to a tiger attack. For me and other women, the main reason for mangrove plantations is to protect the embankments and village roads. We started watching Arjun Mondal. This helps us to earn some money while protecting nature.” Bakul Kankra Tree / Rhizophora Apiculata (Name of the mangrove species Local/Scientific )

“Trees are our life. When my husband died during one of his ventures into the forest, I was completely bewildered. Then Arjun Mondal told me about trees. The Sundarbans is known for trees. We should preserve those trees. Arjun Mondal first helped us to plant trees and then we started to collect seeds and saplings. Disha Foundation is also helping us with this. We have tried to help others as well. Our greatest reward is that we have had partial success in protecting these trees. I am Geeta Mridha, my husband died on February 14, 2012, in the Palmari jungle in Sundarbans due to a tiger attack.” Sundari tree / Heritiera fomes (Name of the mangrove species Local/Scientific )

“Arjun Mondal first offered me to join the work of mangrove conservation. Mangrove protects our embankments. Through this work, we not only help ourselves but also other people. My name is Dayamati Sardar. Almost 15 years back my husband, Jiten Sardar died in a tiger attack while fishing in a river amidst the forest." Kewrah Tree / Avicennia alba blume (Name of the mangrove species Local/Scientific )

Reach out to mravijitghosh08[at] to know more about this work.

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