Bhitarkanika national park in Odisha’s Kendrapara district has re-established itself as an ideal habitation corridor for estuarine crocodiles with their population maintaining its rising graph as per the findings of the latest headcount of these reptiles.
1784 salt-water crocodiles were counted this year along the water-bodies of Bhitarkanika river system and Mahanadi deltaic region while the census figure recorded last year stood at 1768, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, J.D.Pati.
Estuarine crocodiles are also found in West Bengal’s Sundarbans, having the country’s largest mangrove cover. Besides, the mangrove wetlands in the Andaman Islands are home to these species. But the population density of crocodiles ensconced along with the wild habitats here is more pronounced.
The latest census figure of these animals, which was released by the forest department today, has come out with an encouraging trend of rising in the number of estuarine crocodiles.
Census was conducted both in a day and night hours. Due to favourable climatic conditions such as clear and sunny weather, low day and night temperature in water, and favourable tide conditions, counting crocodiles was hassle-free.
The census breakup of the crocs, according to forest officials is hatchlings: 564 (32%); Yearlings: 378 (21%); Juveniles: 338 (19%); Sub-adults: 158 (9%); Adults: 346 (19%).
Out of the total numbers of crocodiles, maximum of 1409 crocodiles were spotted in Kanika Wildlife Range which included Forest Blocks and Rivers starting from Khola to Bhitarkanika-Pathasala confluence and beyond in Brahmani-Baitarani River Systems followed by 265 crocodiles in Rajnagar WL Range.
Within the Mahanadi delta, 76 crocodiles were counted in Mahakalapada Wildlife Range and in Gahirmatha Wildlife Range a total of 34 crocodiles were counted. It is also noted that the deaths of four crocodiles were recorded during the period from the last census.
The region is crisscrossed by innumerable water inlets, creeks, and nullahs all forming the part of the Bhitarkanika river system.