The population of estuarine or saltwater crocodiles in Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district has increased to 1698 from 1682, a forest department official said. Of these estuarine crocodiles sighted during the census this year at the national park, 12 were albino species. "At least 1698 crocodiles including albino species were counted this year along the water-bodies of Mahanadi deltaic region.
The census figure was 1682 last year," said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya. In 2016, altogether 1671 crocodiles had been sighted. Thus, Bhitarkanika National Park has established itself as an ideal habitation corridor for estuarine crocodiles with their population maintaining a rising graph, Acharya said. Three giant male crocodiles measuring more than 20 feet long were sighted by enumerators. This included a 21-foot long reptile which finds a pride of place in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest living crocodile, he said. This apart, as many as 40 large-size crocodiles measuring 14 to 19 feet were sighted during the annual head count operation conducted between January 3 and 10. The census figure of these animals was released by the forest department early this week. The enumerators found 610 hatchlings, 338 yearlings, 267 juveniles, 172 sub-adults and 311 adult crocodiles in the the region criss-crossed by innumerable water inlets, creeks and nullahs forming the Bhitarkanika river system.
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