Raj Singh, Chairman, Antara Cruises
Raj Singh (FRGS) to present ‘The Secret of the Sundarbans’ at Rutland’s Global BirdFair 2022
Renowned wildlife authority & author of the indispensable books – ‘A Birdwatcher’s Guide to India’ and ‘Mammals of the Indian Subcontinent’, Raj Singh has been invited to speak on ‘The Secrets of Sundarbans’ at the Global BirdFair 2022, scheduled to be held at the Rutland Showground, UK this month (15, 16 & 17 July 2022).
As an expert on wildlife, and the pioneer of the Indian river cruising industry, Singh has presented India’s avian narrative on numerous domestic and international platforms. He has also curated river journeys within the Sunderbans to best showcase the abundance and variety of flora and fauna.
At the fair, Singh is representing the Indian subcontinent as an invited speaker from the region and will be sharing his extensive knowledge on the birding ecosystem in the Sundarbans. The national park is a UNESCO world-heritage site and the world’s largest mangrove forest. In addition to showcasing the exquisite wilderness offerings for wildlife lovers; conservation efforts and challenges will also be highlighted.
“Just as the title suggests, the Sundarbans is a hidden secret haven of nature. This delta region, spread over 40,000 sq km of protected biosphere reserve – the Sundarban National Park, the tiger reserve and many small hamlets – has the most unique ecosystem; providing the perfect habitat for rich mangrove jungles, abundant avifauna, reptiles, dolphins & other mammals. We have over 300 species of birds, 40 mammals and 35 reptile species. It is quite common to spot at least 6 of the 8 Kingfisher species, Black-necked Stork, Spoonbill Sandpiper and more. It has been my endeavour to showcase the jewels of this treasure – the Rutland Global BirdFair being an apt platform to connect with birding enthusiasts across the world. The Sundarbans is one of the main focuses of Antara Cruises’ 2022-2024 itineraries where every sailing and experience details are meticulously planned, highlighting the conservation efforts of the local villagers, NGOs and authorities to maintain the sanctity of nature here.” Singh is the Founder Chairman of Antara Luxury River Cruises that sail along the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, amongst 25 other rivers across 5 states and 2 countries.
Elaborating on these exclusive Sundarbans sailings Singh adds, “Antara offers regenerative river journeys of joy and transformation that change the perspectives of people and places. Embarking in Kolkata, the cruise will explore the delta of the Sundarbans, also showcasing the traditional culture and art of the delta. With resident onboard naturalists, guests will enjoy interactions on biodiversity as well as guided excursions into this unique ecosystem. Anchoring in various spots, guests will scale different watchtowers to sight endangered crocodiles, terrapins and many species of migratory Birds, wild boars, axis deer and other mammals. Sailing on cruise creeks, guests will keep a keen eye out for Irrawaddy Dolphins and other marine life; enjoying village walks & interactions with the locals engaged in traditional farming; and witnessing the traditional Bon Bibi drama of the South of Bengal. There will be freshly caught seafood and locally inspired dishes on the menu, giving the guests an overall immersive experience.”
Currently, two of Antara Cruises’ luxury boutique ships, built in a colonial style of architecture – Ganges Voyageur I and Ganges Voyageur II, cruise into the Sundarbans on smaller and larger itineraries that also include the heritage, wildlife, gastronomy and rich mythologies and monuments across Bengal into the mangroves. Keen to showcase and protect the thriving wilderness found in the delta, four exclusive Sundarbans itineraries have been scheduled this sailing season – a first in the tourism landscape of the region. All sailings are done in a sustainable manner with great responsibility to the environment and support to the welfare of the local communities through various initiatives.