Human-tiger conflicts in the Indian Sundarbans affect mental well-being of local community members. There is a cultural connect to tigers which further influences interaction with their natural environment.Tiger-widows exhibit post-traumatic stress disorder and adjustment difficulties in the aftermath of the death of their spouses. Young widows show resilience. Many migrate to neighbouring cities but those that stay behind hope for better livelihood options.Conservation in the region should be linked with socio-cultural factors feel experts. This is the third article in a three-part series based on Mongabay-India’s travel to the Indian Sundarbans. Part One is about the highly successful dairy cooperatives in the area. Part Three sheds light on an often-neglected issue: mental health among the tiger widows of Sundarbans. As the sun beats down on the Indian Sundarbans archipelago in the Bay of Bengal, Gita Mandal recounts her daily ordeal as a fisher, “There are crocodiles in the river and the tiger lurks on land on the other side. Erosion attacks us from the other end.” The island cluster at the confluence of Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers in the bay in south Asia, is home to the world’s largest mangroves forest and lair of the royal Bengal tiger. It is in this climate change hotspot that the 55-year-old has spent the last decade reluctantly making the most of what the rivers and tidal creeks have to offer in terms of fish and crabs, after her husband was dragged away by a tiger in the forests. Reposing her faith in Bonobibi, the guardian deity of the Sundarbans forest, Gita, rows up to a sediment island deposit (char) every night, spreads her net and waits in the darkness. She steers away to the safety of her home in Satjelia island every morning with fresh catch. During her vigil, Gita often encounters tigers. Her neighbour, 45-year-old Subhadra Sanyal continues to experience flashbacks of the day, five years ago, when a tiger took her husband by the neck right in front of her, while they were fishing in a tidal creek. She has turned her back on the forest for good and picks up work as a domestic help in the islands. Subhadra Sanyal (L) and Gita Mandal (R) from Satjelia island in Sundarbans lost their husbands to tiger attacks. While Gita continues to depend on the forest for her livelihood through fishing, fear has stopped Subhadra from entering the forest. Photo by Kartik Chandramouli/Mongabay. In May, when Sumitra Midha’s husband fell prey to a big cat as the couple went crab catching in the restricted area of the Sundarbans Tiger Reserve, her belief in Bonobibi was shattered. Having aborted fishing in fear of the tiger, a despondent Sumitra now scrapes a living as an agricultural labourer but fervently hopes for better work options. Hedged in by severe erosion linked to sea level rise, natural disasters and human-animal conflicts, the lives of these “tiger widows” offer a glimpse of a unique relationship between environment, culture and mental health, says U.K.-based researcher Arabinda Chowdhury who has extensively studied the islanders mental health issues through the prism of eco-psychiatry.