With the annual headcount
exercise of estuarine crocodiles getting underway, Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha would remain out of bounds for nine days of this month for nature lovers who long for savouring the warmth of congenial wetland spots, officials said.
The national park is being shut from January 15 to 23 for the annual census of the estuarine crocodiles. As many as 22 teams have been constituted to count the crocodiles in the creeks, nullahs and rivers within the park and its nearby areas.
The national park's closure during the period will ensure the smooth and human interference-free census operation. Any form of human activity would come in the way of the meticulous census of these reptiles. That's why the curb on tourists' footfall has been imposed, said the Divisional Forest Officer, Bhitarkanika Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bikash Ranjan Dash.
Bhitarkanika is said to house 70 per cent of India's estuarine crocodile or saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started way back in 1975.
The number of saltwater crocodiles, the species which are not found in any other river system in Odisha, as per the latest census, in Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary is estimated to be 1,757, he said.
Adequate conservation measures by the state forest department have led to a systematic rise in the number of these reptiles over the years.
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