After a 12-day ban, the Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district was reopened on Monday by the Forest Department. As per the DFO of the park, Kedar Kumar Swain, the entry was banned so that the hullabaloo of tourists does not disturb the counting of the reptiles and avian species in the park. He further said that the peak time in winter season unveils more than half of the mud bank, and the lunar cycle is an appropriate time for to count reptiles.
The counting drive of the endangered estuarine crocodiles was organized under the guidance of wildlife personnel. For the head count, many enumerators were deployed who were trained by local forest staff and some herpetologists including Dr Sudhakar Kar, a known crocodile researcher Dr Sudhakar Kar of State Wildlife Department. According to one of the forest officers, the enumerators covered Bhitarkanika river system as well as innumerable creeks, water inlets and nullahs. The special teams will present the consolidated data on Thursday
There were 1649 estuarine crocodiles in 2012-13 and the figure declined to 1644 in 2013-14. Expressing concerns on the dwindling numbers, the Ministry of Forest and Environment in 1974 had initiated a crocodile breeding and rearing project with UNDP in Dangamal area of the park. And it had been observed that the population of crocodiles was increasing in the water bodies encompassing the park, which spoke volumes about the success of the project.
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