1,811 Saltwater Crocodiles Counted in Odisha's Bhitarkanika National Park

Record Count of 1,811 Saltwater Crocodiles in Odisha's Bhitarkanika National Park
Record Count of 1,811 Saltwater Crocodiles in Odisha's Bhitarkanika National Park
Record Count of 1,811 Saltwater Crocodiles in Odisha's Bhitarkanika National Park

Kendrapara (Odisha) | A total of 1,811 saltwater crocodiles have been counted at Bhitankanika National Park in Odisha's Kendrapara district in a recent census, a forest official said on Sunday.

The number of estuarine crocodiles in water bodies of the Bhitarkanika river system and Mahanadi deltaic region was 1,793 last year, said Sudarshan Gopinath Yadav, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Rajnagar Mangrove (Wildlife) Forest Division.

The growth in numbers has been mainly reported in hatchlings but other size segments have also reported slight growth compared to last year, he said.

As per the census, of the 1,811 crocodiles, 582 (32 per cent) are in the hatchling group, while 387 (21 per cent) are yearlings, 327 (19 per cent) are juveniles, 167 (9 per cent) are sub-adults and 348 (19 per cent) are adults.

The annual crocodile estimation exercise was conducted by 22 teams in Bhitarkanika National Park, Gahirmatha Sanctuary and Mahanadi deltaic areas from January 10 to 12.

The census was conducted both during the day and at night. Favourable weather conditions this year resulted in better sightings of crocodiles in rivers and creeks, he said.

Estuarine crocodiles are also found in West Bengal's Sundarbans, which has the country's largest mangrove cover. Besides the mangrove wetlands in Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also home to these species.

However, the wild habitats in Bhitarkanika have the highest density and population of saltwater crocodiles.

Odisha is the only state in the country which has gharial, mugger and saltwater crocodiles in the wild. The state government launched a conservation programme for these crocodile species in 1975.

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