Berhampur, January 13 (Localwire): Wildlife activists and officials are delighted that the population of mugger or Crocodylus palustris, an endangered crocodile species, has increased in Ghodahada irrigation reservoir and its adjoining water bodies near Digapahandi in Ganjam district.
According to Berhampur divisional forest officer (DFO) Amlan Nayak the number of muggers in and around the reservoir was found to be 65, up from 58 in 2019.
The wildlife officials concluded the three-day census on Saturday.
“While 44 muggers were found in the five-sq-km reservoir, another 21 were detected in the nearby water bodies,” DFO Nayak said.
During the previous year census, officials had counted 43 muggers in Ghodahada reservoir and 15 outside the ponds, sources said, adding that the population of the mugger stood constant at 55 during 2017 and 2016, and 49 in 2015.
Improvement of the habitat in the water bodies has led to an increase in the population of the crocodile species, the DFO stated.
The annual census of the crocodile species was carried out by 20 teams, including ten teams in the Ghodahada reservoir and around 50 persons were involved in the enumeration of the endangered species, sources said.
Ghodahada reservoir is considered as one of the potential habitats for the muggers in the state after Satakosia and Similipal.
The mugger is one of the three crocodile species found in the state. The other crocodile species are gharial (Gavialis gangeticus), and saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) or estuarine crocodile.
Forest officials said that they did not come across any death of mugger in the area during the last three years.
“The muggers in Ghodahada swim safely as the local fishermen did not harm them, even though they use the water body for the fishing purpose. This despite frequent reports of destruction of the fishing nets by the animal,” Digapahandi forest range officer PK Khadagray said.
He further pointed out that locals considered the sight of the mugger in the pond as a harbinger and hence do not harm them.
“The forest officials in the area are also creating awareness among the local people for co-existence of humans and animals,” he said.