Kendrapara, January 4 (Localwire): The state forest department has announced that there is a minor increase in the population of the salt-water crocodiles at the Bhitarkanika National Park and its nearby areas in Kendrapara district.
According to the annual reptile census conducted by the forest officials on Friday, there are a total of 1,757 crocodiles in the area, up from 1,742 reptiles last year.
The forest officials also sighted 12 albino crocodiles during the reptile census.
The headcount drive of the endangered estuarine crocodiles was conducted under the supervision of wildlife personnel.
“The enumerators were assisted by trained local forest staff and some herpetologists, including noted crocodile researcher Dr. Sudhakar Kar covered Bhitarkanika river system besides innumerable creeks, water inlets, and nullahs,” Bhitarkanika National Park divisional forest officer (DFO) Bikash Ranjan Dash said.
According to Dr. Kar, during the crocodile census, the teams sighted 620 hatchlings, 325 yearlings, 288 juveniles, 185 sub-adults that are six to eight feet long, and 339 adults reptiles that are more than eight feet long.
“Gori, the 46-year-old albino crocodile of Bhitarkanika resides in a pen in the park, but we also sighted around 12 albino crocodiles and four giant crocodiles that were more than 20 feet long, during the reptile census,” Dr. Kar stated.
In 1975, the Ministry of Forest and Environment in collaboration with UNDP had started the crocodile breeding and rearing project in Dangamala within the Bhitarkanika Park.
“Thanks to the success of the project, the crocodile population started increasing in the creeks, river and other water bodies of the park and its nearby areas.
The Guinness Book of World Record in 2006 listed the 23-foot long salt-water crocodile in Bhitarkanika as the largest crocodile in the world,” Dr. Kar said.