Bali Island, in the Sundarbans, is one of the best places to explore the mangrove forests of the area. It lies in the South 24 Parganas District of West Bengal in India. The forested island has 15 villages with about 37000 inhabitants. The main occupations of the Bali island residents are fishing, honey collection, farming, and shrimping. Nowadays, tourism is also becoming a major occupation for the islanders and there are some beautiful, rustic resorts in Bali. It is separated from the tiger-infested Sunderbans National Park by the Gumdi channel and a sheer netting keeps the locals safe from the tigers. Tourists and the islanders are forbidden to enter the land areas of the forest and Bali has a long history of tiger attacks. Sunderban delta tigers are strong swimmers and they are often known to cross channels to enter the human habitat.

The once tiger-infested Bali island today

Nowadays, Bali is mostly a peaceful island and the greatest danger it faces today is from the cyclones that periodically pound the Sunderban delta. It was severely affected by the cyclone Aila in 2009. A saline river broke through the island´s embankments and devastated Bali. Today, its embankments are once again in place and tourism is booming thanks to WWF and the West Bengal Forest Department. In 2018, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) started the Khadi’s Employment Drive to employ the socially ostracized ´tiger widows´ (women who lost their husbands to tiger attacks). It was a huge social initiative and today, over 150 tiger widows Khadi artisans work there. Additionally, there are many resorts, tourist guide training centers, and homestays in Bali. These institutions aim to provide alternative employment opportunities to the youth and to wean them away from their dependency on forest resources. Thus, most organized tours stop at Bali island for a brief introduction to the village life and it is a lovely place to explore. Take a look at the photo essay of this interesting Sunderban delta island.

The people of the Sunderban Delta

The Sunderban Delta

A local barber´s shop

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