Forests in West Bengal
West Bengal has a total recorded forest area of 11,879 sq km. This area - making 13.4% of the gross geographical area - includes Reserved Forests (7,054 sq km), Protected Forests (3,772 sq km) and Unclassed State Forests (1,053 sq km).
Apart from the forest land, the vast wetlands of West Bengal add to its floral diversity.
Consequently, the wildlife of West Bengal, too, records a wide diversity that includes 176 types of mammals, 39 amphibians, 139 reptiles, 600 birds, 574 fishes and about 6409 invertebrates. This wide array of fauna of West Bengal includes some endangered species like Royal Bengal Tiger, Fishing Cat, Clouded Leopard, One-horned Rhino, Red Panda, Pigmy Hog, Olive Ridley Turtle, Rare River Terrapin, Salvator Lizard, Bengal Florican, Goliath Heron, Great Pied Hornbill, etc.
Protected National Parks and Sanctuaries
West Bengal has 5 National Parks and 14 Wild Life Sanctuaries under the Directorate of Forests, Govt. of West Bengal.
(a) Singalila (home of the endangered Red Panda),
(b) Neora Valley (home of the endangered Red Panda),
(c) Buxa (includes Buxa Tiger Reserve),
(d) Gorumara (home of the endangered One-horned Rhino), and
(e) Sundarbans (includes Sundarbans Tiger Reserve; home of the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger).
Wild Life Sanctuaries:
(a) Jorepokhri Salamander (home of the endangered Salamander or Himalayan Newt),
(e) Jaldapara (home of the endangered One-horned Rhino and Pigmy Hog)
(g) Raiganj (popularly known as Kulik Bird Sanctuary),
(k) Bibhutibhushan (popularly known as Parmadan),
(l) Sajnekhali (home of the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger),
(m) Halliday Island, and
(n) Lothian Island (home of the endangered Olive Ridley Turtle).
Apart from them, there are the Chintamani Kar Bird Sanctuary (erstwhile Narendrapur Wildlife Sanctuary), Eco-tourism Centres at Rasik Bil and Kunjanagar, one Crocodile Hatchery at Bhagabatpur, and one Leopard Rescue Centre at South Khairbari.
UNESCO has declared the Sundarbans Biosphere Reserve as a World Heritage site.
Visiting Forests and Sanctuaries
- One needs to procure Day Visit permits for entry into most of the Wildlife
Sanctuaries and National Parks in West Bengal. There is a weekly holiday
(normally Thursdays) on which no permit is issued. Counters for issuing such
permits are normally located at the entry check-post of the sanctuary
itself. In some cases, however, the counters are located some distance away.
- Permits are also required for Videography within the sanctuaries. While
Still Photography within some better-known sanctuaries require permits, it
is generally exempted in other sanctuaries.
- Forests have an off-season during the monsoon months.
The off-season generally spans between 16th of June and 15th of September.
No day visit permits to sanctuaries are issued during this period. However,
FRH-s remain open during the off-season.
- Protect your feet with shoes instead of slippers in the jungles.
- Take sufficient precaution against mosquitoes, leeches and such other
menacing insects. Mosquito-nets are to be preferred rather than mosquito
repellants as they protect from other insects as well. Remember that you are
the intruder into their land and the insects have every right to challenge you at
their opportune moment!
Staying at Forest Rest Houses
- Forest Rest Houses are different from WBFDC Resorts run commercially.
- Forest Rest Houses are basically meant for officials on Government duty and
hence all accommodation booked at FRH-s are but provisional. Your booking may be
cancelled or curtailed at any point of time without notice.
- Spot booking of FRH-s may be possible only if the appropriate sanctioning authority resides
close by — which is normally not the case.
- As a rule, food is not available at FRH-s. In some cases, however, the
attendants might cook the food if ration is supplied to them.
- Recently, however, the Forest Deptt. has constructed some eco-tourism
resorts where accommodation and food are available commercially. Such
resorts are managed by local SHG-s under the direct supervision of the Deptt.
Mendabari Jungle Camp, Kunjanagar Eco Park, Gorumara
Elephant Camp and Chapramari Wilderness Camp are examples of such
- FRH-s, generally, have no electricity. Carry electric torches, candles,
etc. on your own.
- FRH-s remain open during the off-season (between 16th of June and 15th of
September) and you can always plan to enjoy the
forests during monsoon from your bungalow without moving here and there.
And, if that is the case, you can think of taking advantage of the
off-season discounts offered by WBFDC for accommodation in its various
resorts (see under Tips and Contacts for details).
The following points are copied straight from the instructions
printed on the back of a Day Visit permit for Jaldapara WLS. The list may serve as
a pointer to what is expected from a visitor to the forests.
- Keep silence. Watch and observe nature in all its glory and let it speak for you.
Please do not shout, play music or blow horns while in the
- Keep fire away. This is the most destructive of all forces. Please do not kindle fires, throw lighted matches, cigarettes,
- Keep the forest clean. Do not litter with paper, packet.
- Use of plastic cellophane, plastic bags are not allowed.
- Keep pets at home.
- Do not carry firearms, explosives, etc. These are prohibited as per law.
- Keep sober. Do not consume alcoholic drinks within the Sanctuary.
- Entering inside the forest (is) prohibited. Follow the specific road/path only.
- Picnics are not permitted inside the Sanctuary.
- Don't tease the wild animals. Watch and observe nature silently.
- Drive slowly. (Permissible speed is 20 km./hr.)
- Disorderly conduct is not permitted.
- No person shall hunt, destroy or remove or collect any forest produce or wildlife. Fishing (is) prohibited.
- Violations of any provisions as mentioned above or any rules shall be punishable under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and rules made
thereunder and Indian Forest Act, 1927.
In addition to the above-mentioned points, avoid using brightly coloured
dresses that might repulse wild animals. Khaki or fatigue green are the best