Kendrapara, November 23 (LocalWire): The government has decided to hold the three-day Bhitarkanika Festival for the first time at Dangmal, within the park in Kendrapara, from 13 to 15 January 2020.
The festival will be jointly organised by the forest department, district administration and the tourism department to attract more tourists to the country’s second-largest mangrove forest.
Sources indicate that the district administration has allocated Rs 30 lakh for the festival.
“Beautiful water bodies with lush green mangrove forests along with many crocodiles, birds, snakes, and other animals are the asset of the national park.
One will be mesmerised at the picturesque beauty and serenity of the park. This park attracts travelers from different corners of the country and world,” Kendrapara collector Samarth Verma said.
“Bhitarkanika National Park is home to a great variety of wildlife, including spotted deer, saltwater crocodiles, water monitors, pythons and sambars.
It is also the home of large numbers of migratory birds in winter and the festival will help generate awareness among people about conservation of birds, crocodiles and other animals,” the collector stated.
The district authority also plans to organise a photo exhibition and seminar during the festival, including films on Bhitarkanika and other wildlife, he said.
Gahiramtha marine sanctuary within Bhitarkanika is the world’s largest rookery of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles and the authorities have built cottages at Habelikothi, Gupti, Danagamala to attract more tourists, particularly those from overseas.
“We are also giving emphasis on sustainable tourism to generate employment for the locals,” the officer said.
The festival will be attended by senior forest officials, tour operators, wildlife researchers, government officials, and others.
In 1975, the ministry of Forest and Environment in collaboration with UNDP had started a 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 nearby areas as the park are now the home of 1,742 crocodiles as per this year crocodile census.
Nine years back, the Guinness Book of World Record recorded a 23-foot long salt-water crocodile in Bhitarkanika as the largest crocodile in the world.
“This festival will help many visitors and researchers gather more knowledge about the crocodile conservation work,” noted crocodile researcher Dr. Sudhakar Kar said.