With the onset of the breeding season of estuarine crocodiles, Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha's Kendrapara district will remain closed for visitors for three months from Wednesday, an official said.
Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya, said the prohibition is being imposed to ensure the safety of humans and provide a congenial environment to the breeding crocodiles.
The prohibition will be lifted on July 31. The prohibition on tourists and visitors has been clamped to ensure disturbance-free annual nesting of crocs.
The reptiles often turn violent and attack intruders during this period. "So the objective is to ensure the safety of humans and provide congenial environs to the breeding crocodiles," he said.
As per the census conducted in January this year, there are 1742 estuarine crocodiles in the water bodies of Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary.
In view the commencement of the breeding season of crocs, the Forest department is also giving priority to the safety of the locals, Acharya said.
Local residents need to remain watchful and vigilant and maintain a safe distance from crocodile-infested water- bodies, the DFO said.
Crocodiles stray from their habitats into water bodies in and around human settlements and man-crocodile conflict often reaches a flashpoint in peripheral villages of Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary during this period, he said.
Bhitarkanika is said to house 70 per cent of India's estuarine or saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started way back in 1975.
According to Bhitarakanika National Park authorities, mammals found in the place are leopard, wild boar, jungle cat, fishing cat, hyena, sambar, striped palm squirrel, gangetic dolphin while reptiles found comprise turtles including Olive Ridley sea turtle, crocodile, lizard, water monitors, python, and king cobra. Around 166 species of birds have been spotted in the park.
Bhitarakanika is one of the richest storehouses of mangrove genes. Researchers have come across 11 of the 70 mangrove species, which were facing threat of extinction in the world, in Bhitarakanika.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)