Kendrapara, Feb 4 (LocalWire) Starting on 7th Feb the three-day-long Bhitarkanika Festival will be held for the first time at Nalitapatia village on the outskirts of the Bhitarkanika National Park, Kendrapada.
The Forest Department, the District Administration and the Tourism Department are jointly organizing the festival to attract more tourists to the country’s second largest mangrove forest.
The district administration will spend a sum of Rs 30 Lakhs for the festival.
“We selected the Nalitapatia village, six kilometers away from the park, for the festival so as not to disturb the wildlife in the park,” said Bikash Ranjan Dash, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of the park.
The Bhitarkanika National Park, a Ramsar site, is home to a variety of wildlife, including spotted deer, salt water crocodiles, pythons and Sambars.
It also plays host to a large number of migratory birds during winters.
The festival will generate awareness among people about the conservation of birds and other animals, added the forest officer.
The officer informed LocalWire that during the festival, a photo exhibition, seminars and other events will be organized.
The Gahiramtha Marine Sanctuary within the park is the world’s largest rookery of Olive Ridley Sea Turtles.
In an effort to attract more tourists, the authorities have built cottages at Habelikothi, Gupti, Danagamala.
We are also giving emphasis on sustainable tourism to generate employment for the locals, added the officer.
The festival will be attended by state’s Tourism Minister, senior forest officials, tour operators, wildlife researchers, and others.
In 1975, the ministry of Forest and Environment in collaboration with the UNDP had started a crocodile breeding and rearing project in Dangamala within the Bhitarkanika Park after which the crocodile population started increasing in the creeks, river and other water bodies of the park.
The park is now a home to 1757 crocodiles as per the latest census.
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.
The salt water crocodile conservation programme in Bhitarkanika is the most successful one as in 1975, the park had only 96 crocodiles.
Edited by Meenal Singh