Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Rajnagar, Jul 7:
As many as 68 nesting sites of estuarine crocodiles have been spotted in the Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha’s Kendrapara district, an official said today.
The nests were sighted along the innumerable nullahs, creeks and water-inlets in the Bhitarkanika river system. For the first time, wildlife enumerators spotted two nests at Hariabanka near Ramchandi creek in Mahakalpada under Bhitarkanika National Park.
Wildlife officials have collected 43 eggs from a single nest for artificial breeding at the crocodile breeding centre at Dangamal, official sources said.
The female crocodiles hunt for safe hideouts and set up nests on a high ground from the river system. The nests are usually 1.5-2 feet high and made with mangrove twigs and dry leaves. After laying eggs, they cover the nest again with dry leaves and branchlets.
The female crocodiles guard the eggs from being savoured by predators. Estuarine crocodiles breed and nest during May to July every year for which the department imposes a three-month ban for tourists to this national park as the aquatic animal gets violent during this period.
A female crocodile lays around 40 to 50 eggs and the hatchlings usually emerge from the nests within 75 days of incubation period.
Notably, there has been a marginal increase in the crocodile nests from 62 to 68 as compared to last year’s figures, wildlife official sources said.