Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kendrapada, Jan 18:
The Bhitarkanika National Park under Rajnagar Wildlife Division in Odisha’s Kendrapara district was re-opened for the tourists this morning after a 10-day ban from Jan 8 for the annual census of birds and estuarine crocodiles.
The Forest officials impose a ban on entry of tourists for the annual enumeration exercise. The prohibition aims at preventing noise pollution during the census drive of winter avian guests and crocodiles.
The head count of salt water crocodiles was done under the supervision of wildlife personnel accompanied by crocodile researchers and wildlife experts.
While the headcount of the migratory birds was completed on January 10, the counting of salt water crocodiles concluded yesterday, sources said.
Forest department officials had engaged 17 teams for counting of crocodiles and migratory birds. Counting of crocodiles was undertaken in Rajnagar, Dangmal, Gahirmatha and Mahakalpada ranges. Similarly, enumeration of migratory birds was undertaken in Mathabadia, Kalibhanjia, Bagagahan, Satbhaya and Gahirmatha areas.
The footfall of migratory birds has declined as compared to last year whereas the number of crocodiles has shot up, sources said on conditions of anonymity.
During the last annual crocodile census, at least 1,645 estuarine crocodiles were reportedly sighted by officials at the creeks, rivulets and water bodies of the Bhitarkanika river system.
Bhitarkanika National Park spread over 672 sq km has been designated as a National Park since 1998.