Bhubaneswar: The saltwater or estuarine Crocodile population in the Bhitarkanika National Park and Odisha’s Satkosia Sanctuary has increased marginally this year, the latest census report revealed.
Forest Department officials conducted the crocodile census from January 10 to 12 at the Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapars district.
The census report shows the presence of 1,811 crocodiles in the park compared to 1,793 in the last year. According to Sudarshan Gopinath Yadav, the Divisional Forest Officer of Bhitarkanika National Park, the census work was undertaken during the winter because most of the crocodiles expose themselves on the banks of the rivers and creeks in the region for sunbathing during this time of the year.
Twenty-two teams of the Forest Department were divided into 51 segments to undertake the estuarine crocodile count in all creeks and rivers inside the park and adjoining areas.
It is worth mentioning here that after the Sundarbans in West Bengal, Bhitarkanika is the second-largest mangrove forest in the country. Sundarbans as well as Bhitarkanika are among the three areas where saltwater crocodiles are found in large numbers in India.
The census was conducted under the supervision of wildlife personnel and the enumerators were assisted by trained local Forest Department staff and some herpetologists.
During the census exercise, the teams sighted 582 hatchlings (two feet in length), 387 yearlings (2-3 feet), 327 juveniles (3-6 feet), 167 sub-adults (6-8 feet long), and 348 adults (more than 8 feet long), sources said.