Bhitarkanika National Park closed for croc breeding

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Bhitarkanika National Park closed for croc breeding

Kendrapara (Odisha), May 1 (PTI) With the onset of the breeding season of estuarine crocodiles, Bhitarkanika National Park authorities today clamped three-month-long prohibition on entry of tourists and visitors to the wetland sites of the park.

The national park would reopen for visitors on August 1, said park officials. Prohibition is being imposed in view of the breeding season of salt-water crocodiles. Human interference would disturb the breeding animals, they said.

As the reptiles often turn violent and attack intruders during breeding period, the authorities put this restriction to ensure the safety of humans and provide congenial environment to the breeding crocodiles, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya.

As per the latest head count of these animals, 1671 estuarine crocodiles were counted living along the Bhitarkanika s water bodies.

Keeping in view commencement of the breeding season, the Forest department is prioritising safety of local people.

Local residents need to remain watchful and vigilant. People could ensure their own safety by keeping safe distance from crocodile-infested water-bodies, Acharya said.

Crocodiles are found straying from their habitats into water bodies in and around the human settlements.

Man-crocodile conflict often reaches a flash point in peripheral villages of Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary during this period, the DFO said.

The species are itinerant in nature and stray into adjoining water-bodies because of its increase in hyper-salinity contents. After a temporary sojourn, they leave for their permanent habitation corridors within the Bhitarkanika habitation corridors, according to Forest officials.

Wildlife researchers studying on salt water crocs are of the view that habitat of these species is getting squeezed in about 26 square km of water bodies within the national park. These reptiles prefer the ideal water bodies because of its salinity contents. The salinity level in some of the water bodies might be dropping proving less ideal for crocodiles.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.