Kendrapara, July 31 (LocalWire): After a three-month-break Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district has been reopened to tourists.
It was closed from 1st May to 31st July during the mating and nesting season of salt water crocodiles.
Three-month-long prohibition order was imposed on tourists and locals as during nesting and breeding season, crocodiles turn more violent and the reptiles need a tranquil and calm environment to mate and nest, the Divisional Forest Officer of Bhitarkanika National Park, Bimal Prasan Acharya said.
The forest department has also made it mandatory for tourists to take a local guide while visiting the national park by boat.
Around 40 youths from nearby villages of the park have been trained as guides who will help tourists during their visit to the park.
Known as the country’s second largest mangrove forest after the Sundarbans in West Bengal, eco-tourism in Bhitarkanika is a big employment generator particularly for women, youth, fishermen, boat men and others. Eco- tourism can lead to reduction of poverty and promote socio-economic development, added Acharya.
‘A record number of salt-water crocodiles nested during the season this year in Bhitarkanika as we counted 103 crocodile nests.
Last year there were 101 nests in the park, added the forest officer.
Tourists and visitors intending to visit Bhitarkanika should log on to www.ecotourodisha.com Attracting tourists from across India and abroad, the forest department has forest rest houses in Dangamala, Agaranasi, Habalikothi, Gupti and Eakakula, added the forest officer.
Recognized as the biggest salt-water crocodile conservation success story in the country, relentless efforts put in by the authorities have witnessed the increase of crocodiles in Bhitarkanika from just about 97 in 1974 to 1742 reptiles in January 2019, added Acharya.
‘The forest department has already closed Similipal sanctuary and many other forests in the state from 16 June to 31October during the monsoon and we hope more tourists will start trickling into the water-bodies and the dense mangrove forests of the park from 1August.
Several birds have already arrived in Bhitarkanika for nesting and the tourists will also enjoy the park’s abundant bird life,’ added the forest officer.