The Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest of which more than half lies in Bangladesh, once again acted as a natural barrier protecting the country from the worst effects of Cyclone Yaas, as it has done countless times before. Yet this protection comes at a cost, as the forest ecosystem must bear heavy damage each time to both its flora and fauna.
At least 6 deer, alive and dead, were recovered until Thursday as they came floating along the flood waters from the forest, a day after rthe cyclone made landfall. For two days, the entire mangrove remained inundated in saline water pushed in by tidal waves that reached over 5-feet during the high tide.
Experts fear for the rich biodiversity of the forest as salt water may remain for quite some time before being absorbed into the soil, turning the land saline too.
“Through a long adaptive process wildlife has survived in Sundarbans but the biodiversity will be affected as their food and habitats have been destroyed,” said Dr. Md Anwarul Islam, professor of the Zoology Department at Dhaka University.
“Remaining submerged in saline water can hinder reproduction as well as other diseases to the animals,” he said.
The southwestern mangrove forest formed on the Bay of Bengal has been working as a buffer between the coastal population and many catastrophic cyclones that ravage the region every year. Cyclones Aila, Bulbul, Sidr, Amphan and most recently Yaas all at first rampaged the Sundarbans and then weakened as they reached further into Bangladesh.