Amidst the news of despair and devastation from the Sunderbans, which bore the brunt of Cyclone Aila, comes some encouraging news. The extent of damage to the mangrove forests initially reported to have been huge in the category 2 cyclone is much less than previously estimated.
In the Sajnekhali Wildlife Sanctuary a water monitor lizard saunters out in search of food. Elsewhere, the lesser adjutant stork and the egret also hope to get lucky. Such sightings are rare in the cyclone ravaged areas of the Sunderbans but conservationists looking at the larger picture feel relieved.
Says Subrat Mukherjee, field director, Sunderban Tiger Reserve: "As far as this effect of this thing (cyclone) on the forest there is hardly any effect."
Says ornithologist Bikram Grewal: "We saw very little game or birds but that' s only to be expected. The birds nesting you know the rain, the cyclone must have destroyed the nests so they have to start all over again. In such circumstances animals tend to go deep into the forests. But per se the forest is untouched. "
Forest officials have other reasons to be confident.
Normal tiger sightings are being reported from the tiger reserve and there is no hard evidence of tiger deaths. A week back, the forest department tranquilised a tigress that had strayed into a village and released it back into the forest.