Berhampur: The population of endangered crocodile species mugger in Ghodahada irrigation reservoir in Ganjam district has remained stagnant.
The one-day census of the mugger also known as marsh crocodile, in a four-sq-km reservoir area, conducted by Berhampur forest division on last Wednesday estimated the population of the species to be 49.
The population of the crocodile species was 46 last year, forest officials said.
“Around 42 persons were engaged to enumerate the water animal. The entire reservoir and its adjoining ponds were divided into ten segments. The census was conducted by the direct sight method from 8 AM to 12 noon”, said Divisional Forest Officer, Berhampur, S S Mishra.
Mugger is one of the three crocodile species found in the state. The other species found in the state are gharial and salt-water crocodiles or estuarine crocodile.
Ghodahada reservoir is considered as one of the potential habitats for the muggers in the state, he said.
Similipal, Satakosia, Ramtirth and Baisipalli in the states have been identified as the other habitats for this species.
The muggers in Ghodahada reservoir swim safely as the local fishermen do not harm them. This despite frequent reports of destruction of the fishing nets by the animal.
“We have submitted the wetland management plan for Ghodahada to the government. The main focus of the plan is the mugger with habitat improvement with involvement of local fishermen. It also targeted to provide the alternative livelihood support to the local fishermen,” said Assistant Conservator of Forest (ACFO) Trinath Patnaik.
A project on “Biodiversity conservation through community based natural resources management” was implemented in the area with the support of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for providing alternative livelihood to fishermen and to protect biodiversity in the area. The Rs 70 lakh project which started in 2008-09 was completed in 2012.