Kendrapara, Jan 14:
Estuarine crocodile population has recorded a marginal dip in Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district, reveals the latest census report.
The number of salt water crocodiles as per the 2014 census figure released today is 1,644 while it was 1,649 last year.
Dispelling concern over the fall in numbers, Forest department officials were of the opinion that such insignificant drop in the crocodile population was not a cause of worry as the population of the reptiles had stabilized on similar instances earlier.
Wildlife experts, on the other hand, said the enumeration of the crocs this time could not be called foolproof as foggy and overcast sky conditions had affected the counting of the reptiles.
Kedar Kumar Swain, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division said the highlights of the census findings this year was that at least six giant size crocodiles above 20 feet long were spotted and all of them are males. Among these was the 21-feet- long crocodile that figures in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest estuarine crocodile. It was spotted firmly ensconced in Mahinsadiha water inlet of the Bhitarkanika river system, he added.
Forest department sources said while 1555 crocs were counted living in the protected area of the national park, 89 reptiles were spotted inhabiting water zones outside the protected park area.