Indian Part of sundarban located on the south-east of West Bengal. The region covers an area of about 9630 sq km and consists of 102 islands and water bodies.Islands are approximately 7.5 meters above sea level on an average. Human habitations develop in 54 islands out of 102 islands which cover some 5363 sq km. Around 4200 km river embankment makes these 54 islands human habitable. The islands are connected with each other by rivers, marshes and tidal creeks. A staggering 4.5 million population thrive in these forests in a somewhat bizarre co-habitation with the wild animals.
Mostly the population is financially weak, depending heavily on the agriculture, fishing, honey collection and wood collection. Lack of alternative employment has made the inhabitants dependent on their traditional skills for sustaining their livelihood. The economy of the people is closely dependent on the mangrove forests. The occupation structure is dominated by fishing, agriculture and collecting resources from the forest. Due to the harsh estuarine conditions, agriculture cannot flourish properly, leading to a meager daily income of the population. Therefore it is not unnatural when they tend to indulge themselves in certain illegal activities like poaching and felling.
It is estimated that almost 5,000 fishermen enter the forest, every year. Moreover, another 500 people are found to enter the deep forests for collecting honey, ignoring the threat from man-eating tigers. In Sundarban area, there are more than a couple of crab species which are caught in tons by the dwellers, annually. There are almost 40,000 families in Sundarban who depend on fishing. Other related activities include repairing of fishing nets, processing of fish and marketing them are also common. During the fishing season, the inhabitants approach the forest in large numbers and mostly in groups.