CLIMATE FURY: DEVASTATION IN THE SUNDARBANS

The late aughts wreaked havoc on the Sundarbans, the location of the world’s largest mangrove forest and home to a dwindling number of endangered Bengal tigers. Situated along the India–Bangladesh border, the Sundarbans was hammered by Cyclone Sidr, in 2007, and then again by Cyclone Aida, in 2009, resulting in over thirty-five hundred deaths and the disappearance of more than twice that many people. Over twenty feet of water immersed the region, breaching the embankments that separated the rivers and lakes from the Bay of Bengal, which dramatically altered the ecosystem.

The Bangladeshi photographer Ismail Ferdous has been documenting the fallout from these cyclones since 2011—the struggle to live off salinated land; the threat posed by the region’s hungry tigers, who feed on farmers forced deep into the forests to fish and collect honey; and the lack of drinking water, which has forced people to collect rainwater and travel long distances to survive. “There is water everywhere,” Ferdous writes, “but not a drop to drink.”

Here’s a look:

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Shyamnagar, Satkhira, deep inside the Sundarbans Forest.
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The thirty-five-year-old Mustafa works in a crab farm in Satkhira. Farmers who once depended on the earth for farming are no longer able to work the infertile land.
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Bags of Rainwater are collected for drinking.
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Men, women, and children travel over a dozen kilometres to Dosh Number Shora, to collect fresh water.
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Deep tube wells sit idle.
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Entering the perilous Sundarbans Forest by way of long rivers where pirates and hungry tigers have killed many of the region’s men.
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Hamida, forty-five, lost both her husband and her son to tiger attacks. She lives on less than a dollar a day, and won’t let her youngest son into the forest to work.
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Repairing a broken dyke in Shyamnagar, Satkhira.
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Repairing a broken dyke in Shyamnagar, Satkhira.

Source: The New Yorker

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