Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Rajnagar, May 18:
Wildlife officials in Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha have spotted at least 80 nesting sites of estuarine crocodiles and the number is likely to increase as the breeding season is not yet over, official sources said.
A majority of crocodile nests were found in Ganjeikhia, Sagunachara, Suajora, Bhramaramari, Bhitarkanika and Kalibhanjadia areas. Besides, the wildlife enumerators of the forest department also sighted nests along the innumerable nullahs, creeks and water-inlets in Bhitarkanika river system, forest department sources said.
Female estuarine crocodiles lay eggs during the period from May to July. Female crocodiles lay around 40 to 50 eggs and the hatchlings usually emerge from the nests within 75 days of incubation.
The mother crocodile keeps a watch on the eggs and moves no more than around 5-10 feet of the nesting site. Forest department bans the entry of visitors to the sanctuary during this period since the reptiles tend to become violent during the nesting and breeding season.
The crocodiles mate between February and April and the nesting takes place from May.
The officials impose a three-month ban on entry of tourists to the Bhitarkanika National Park as the crocodile nesting season gets underway from May 1 and continues till July 31
Last year, as many as 62 nests were sighted in the national park, considered an ideal habitat of saltwater crocodiles.
Till Saturday, 80 nests were spotted and the figure may increase this year as the counting process of estuarine nests is still on and the breeding season on.
“We have taken adequate care for safe nesting of the estuarine crocodiles. Besides, we have deployed forest staff to keep a watch on the eggs being devoured by predators like dogs, jackals, and snakes,” a forest official said.