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Living with Tides and Tigers – The Sundarbans Mangrove Forest

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Book by Gertrud and Helmut Denzau, Elisabeth Fahrni Mansur and Rubaiyat Mansur Mowgli

The Sundarbans, shared by Bangladesh and India in the Gangetic delta, is the world’s largest contiguous mangrove forest. Life in this ever-changing wilderness is ruled by tides and tigers.

Mangroves evoke an image of muddy, hot, insect-infested swamps or impenetrable coastal jungles with strange-looking trees. But to those who venture farther into these specialized tropical forests, their secretive splendor unfolds – serene wilderness, constantly changing colors and moods, fantastic root structures, well-adapted creatures in every inch of water, mud and bark.

For the authors, the discovery began twenty years ago. Together they started exploring the maze of rivers and creeks of the Sundarbans forest by boat, on foot and even by plane. Fascinated by the abundance and diversity of flora and fauna, the friendliness of the people of the forest, and the lurking presence of tigers, the four photographers return again and again. They spend their time in the Sundarbans observing and documenting wildlife and human activities. They listen to the moving stories the local fishermen tell, they pass cold nights with the grass-cutters around warm campfires, and they join the honey-collectors searching for the liquid gold. The people of the forest share their knowledge and insights with the authors, making them feel intimately connected with this unique habitat. This book is the authors’ contribution to the conservation of this rich ecosystem, essential as a protective barrier against natural disasters for the impoverished region.

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Dr. Gertrud Neumann-Denzau and Dr. Helmut Denzau, German natural scientists, are the authors of three books on Indian wildlife. Their photographs, popular and scientific articles have been published in various books, magazines and journals. Since 1970, they have traveled extensively through Indian jungles, starting with an overland journey from Berlin to Delhi. In the late 1980s, Hasan Mansur, pioneer for guided tours to the Sundarbans, encouraged Gertrud and Helmut to come to Bangladesh and offered his help in organizing a visit to the mysterious mangrove forest. His son Rubaiyat turned out to be the perfect companion, not only as a guide, but also as a multi-talented disciple and wonderful friend. That first trip in 1989, so adventurous, visually fascinating and photographically rewarding, was the beginning of a continuing involvement with the forest on both sides of the border.

Rubaiyat Mansur Mowgli, researcher, traveled to the Sundarbans first in 1986. As a ten-year-old boy he enjoyed the thrill of tigers on land and crocodiles in the water, along with the freedom of sleeping under the star-studded sky. 1991 he met Gertrud Neumann-Denzau and spent one month in the Sundarbans as her guide. All daylight hours were spent rowing silently through narrow creeks, observing and photographing wildlife. The seed of love for nature and photography planted by her grew. In 1994 Rubaiyat left school to become a full-time nature guide and wildlife photographer in the Sundarbans. He shares his strong commitment to the conservation of the Sundarbans with his wife, Elisabeth Fahrni Mansur, who moved to Bangladesh in 2002. Together they have published a field guide, booklets and brochures on the Sundarbans, co-authored several research and educational publications and assisted numerous international film crews, photographers and scientists in the forest. Rubaiyat is currently the Principal Researcher of the Bangladesh Cetacean Diversity Project (BCDP), for which he spends the winter months out in the Bay of Bengal, studying dolphins and whales. Elisabeth’s professional training and experience as an educator in Switzerland as well as her former position as CEO of the family-owned nature tourism company, The Guide Tours Ltd., are valuable assets for the BCDP, where she directs the Educational Outreach and Training Program.

In their new book ‘Living with Tides and Tigers – The Sundarbans Mangrove Forest’ the four authors present their stunning photographs together with personal impressions and accounts from the forest.

The book is currently available in Dhaka at Words ‘n Pages, and will be made available at other outlets including Aranya, Jatra and The Guide Tours Ltd. It can be ordered through www.mowgliz.com, where a preview and further information is also available.

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