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Endangered mugger crocodile decapitated in Odisha’s Mahanadi river system

The population of Gharials is alarmingly dwindling in Odisha despite the conservation initiatives launched over the years in their habitats.

IANS | Bhubaneshwar |

The headless carcass of a three-feet-long mugger otherwise called marsh crocodile was spotted in the Mahanadi river near Binikei temple within Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary near Tikarpada in Odisha‘s Angul district.

“The endangered reptile enjoying protected status and conferred schedule-1 animal under wildlife protection act, 1972 most probably got entangled in fishing net. Later the inland fishermen might have decapitated it to save the fishing net from damage”, said Subhendu Behera, Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACF) of Satkosia Gorge Sanctuary.

In Odisha, the marsh crocodiles are found in river systems of the Similipal Tiger Reserve, the Mahanadi river system of the Satkosia Wildlife Sanctuary, the Ghodahada reservoir in Ganjam district besides the Saberi river in Koraput district. As per the latest census of these animals, the water-bodies of Satkosia is home to around 108 mugger species.

Investigation is underway to ascertain the exact cause of the animal’s death. The carcass has been sent for post mortem. The carcass had decomposed and it might have died four to five days back. A case under relevant sections of the wildlife protection act has been registered in this connection. Those found guilty of killing the reptile will be arrested, the official said.

The population of Gharials is alarmingly dwindling in Odisha despite the conservation initiatives launched over the years in their habitats.

The Satkosia gorge of Mahanadi river system in Angul district is also a habitat of critically endangered Gharial crocodiles, whose population is dwindling alarmingly. In an attempt to curb the fatality of crocodiles, the Odisha forest department earlier last year had introduced incentives to inland fishermen in Mahanadi river system to save the fishing-nets-induced death of these reptiles.