Kendrapara, Dec 17 (LocalWire) An eight day ban on entry of tourists into Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district will be imposed from Jan 6-14 for the annual census of salt water crocodiles.
Bhitarkanika divisional forest officer Bimal Prasan Acharya on Monday said: “We have formed ten groups to count the crocodiles in all the 27 creeks and rivers within the park and its nearby areas. Forest department will deploy nine boats during the reptile census.”
“The restrictions on the visitors will be carried out to prevent noise pollution during the counting of the reptiles in Bhitarkanika,” he said.
The head count drive of the endangered estuarine crocodiles would be conducted under the supervision of wildlife personnel.
The enumerators, assisted by trained local forest staff and some herpetologists, including noted crocodile researcher Dr Sudhakar Kar, would cover Bhitarkanika river system besides innumerable creeks, water inlets and nullahs, said the forest officer.
In January 2018, forest officials counted 1698 crocodiles, including 610 hatchlings, 338 yearlings, 267 juveniles, 172 sub-adults and 311 adults reptiles.
As many as 1192 estuarine crocodiles were counted in the census of 2000, whereas in the 2001 census, the number of crocodiles were counted 1330.
In 1975, the Ministry of Forest and Environment, in a collaboration with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), had started a crocodile breeding and rearing project in Dangamala within the Bhitarkanika.
Thanks to the success of the project, crocodile population started increasing in the creeks, river and other water bodies of the park and its nearby areas.
Nine years back, the Guinness Book of World Records recorded a 23-foot long salt-water crocodile in Bhitarkanika as the largest crocodile in the world.