Kendrapara : The annual census of estuarine crocodile species has got underway today with enumerators assigned the task of making headcount of reptiles inhabiting both within and outside the Bhitarkanika national park.
The census got underway today and that’s why the national park has been kept out of bounds for tourists. The objective is to keep the place free from human interference during the delicate headcount operation of these animals, officials said.
The census commenced today under the stewardship of forest personnel and crocodile experts and researchers. Apart from the Bhitrkanika river system, water inlets, creeks and nullas within the national park, the crocodiles’ enumeration is also being conducted in areas along the deltaic region of Mahanadi river.
The upstream of Brahmani, Baitarani and Kharasrota river system has been identified as habitation corridor of estuarine crocodiles. Enumerators are also covering these areas, said Bimal Prasanna Acharya, Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division.
Several villages in Chandballi block in Bhadrakh district, besides in Aul, Rajkanika, Rajnagar and Pattamundai blocks in Kendrapara district are located along the upstream of these rivers. Majority of croc-man conflict cases registered this year had come in from these places.
During the last census, undertaken in January 2018, forest officials had listed 1,698 crocodiles, up from 1,682 the year before, an official said.
Saltwater crocodiles thrive in saline water. The national park is the place where rivers Brahmani, Baitarni, Dhamra and Pathsala meet Bay of Bengal. The mangrove wetland and large number muddy creeks just provide perfect conditions for estuarine crocodiles to nest.