The number of mugger crocodiles in a reservoir and waterbodies around it in Odisha's Ganjam district has increased by 13 in a year, forest officials said.
During a three-day-long census that ended on Friday, 58 crocodiles of the endangered species were found in and around the in Ghodahada irrigation reservoir, and nearby waterbodies, the officials said.
While 43 mugger crocodiles were found in the five sq km reservoir, 15 crocodiles were located in the waterbodies nearby, the Forest Range Officer of Digapahandi, Paramananda Panigrahi, said.
Last year, the population of mugger crocodiles in the area was around 45. While 28 were found inside the reservoir, 17 were found in the adjoining waterbodies, Panigrahi said.
The population of the crocodiles remained stagnant at 55 in 2016 and 2017.
The number was 49 in 2015, official sources said.
Improvement of the habitat is stated to be the cause behind the increase in population of the mugger crocodiles, the range officer said.
The other species are gharial and saltwater crocodile or estuarine crocodile.
Forest officials said they did not find any dead mugger crocodile in the area in the last two to three years.
Though the fishermen use the waterbodies for fishing, the muggers in Ghodahada are safe since the local fishermen do not harm them, the Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Berhampur, A K Behera, said.
The fishermen do not cause any harm to the crocodiles despite frequent reports of destruction of the fishing nets by the animal, Behera said.
The forest officials in the area are also creating awareness among the local people about the need for man-animal co-existence, he said.
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