Kolkata:Cricket lovers, of course, know Shoaib Akhtar well as Rawalpindi Express whose on-field achievements and off-field controversies are many. Now he is to dabble in a field that is far removed from cricket.
Akhtar has shown his inclination to do his bit for the conservation of the Sundarbans bio-diversity and its precious possession - Royal Bengal Tiger. He has also promised to come back to the world's largest mangrove-rich delta next year to do some charitable effort for the wildlife in the region.
"He is extremely interested to do something for the protection of wildlife in the Sundarbans and the conservation of bio-diversity in the deltaic region. He asked me for the way he could help us and I requested him to campaign for the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve in the days to come," Sundarbans Tiger Reserve director Niraj Singhal told IANS Wednesday.
He said Akhtar also assured him that he would come back and raise some funds for the wildlife in the Sundarbans next year.
Singhal said: "Akhtar has got a very high media profile. If he can campaign for the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve and the bio-diversity of the delta, it will help us to generate further awareness amongst the young generations globally."
He said Akhtar has plans for the protection of wild animals in the Sundarbans. "He has already shared some of these plans with us."
During his visit to the Sundarbans from Monday morning to Tuesday afternoon, Akhtar spent time with villagers and went across the mangrove region on a boat.
"We want him to make an appeal to our next generation for conserving the wildlife in the Sundarbans. We would also like to have Akhtar in some of our anti-poaching campaigns and other awareness activities in future," said Singhal.
The Sundarbans, a vast 10,000 sq km tract of forest and saltwater swamp, is formed at the lower part of the Ganges delta extending about 260 km along the Bay of Bengal from the Hooghly River estuary in India to the Meghna River estuary in Bangladesh.
The Sundarbans, a world heritage sites declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco), is a part of the world's largest delta formed by the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna.
The whole tract of forest from the confluence reaches inland for about 100-130 km.
According to environmental experts, the region is now under severe threat of global warming. In the past two decades, four Sundarbans islands - Bedford, Lohachara, Kabasgadi and Suparibhanga - have sunk into the sea and 6,000 families have been displaced from their villages.
A recent survey done by Jadavpur University's department of oceanographic studies suggests that the Sundarbans would lose another 15 per cent of its total habitable land, displacing over 30,000 people, by 2020.