‘Livingstone’ In Mahanadi

One incident firmly etched in my mind was the encounter with a wolf whom we had once surprised at her den.

‘Livingstone’ In Mahanadi (Wolf - Representational Image)

The Mahanadi River expands just before Cuttack city after hitting the coastal plains. It breaks off into the Kathajodi and Birupa River. However the main river continues its downward journey to Paradip on the edge of Cuttack city. A few miles downstream of the 1,000 year old ancient city, lie extensive islands of sparse forests of thorns and scrubs locally known as ‘pathas’. They have fertile soil made of silt deposits that were washed down by the river during monsoon floods over centuries. Being isolated, they rarely face human intrusion and hence wildlife abounds here. There is a wild profusion of berries of all varieties and many locals also go there for collecting them.

These river pathas support a unique ecology as many species of reptiles and birds flourish here. Uncommon reptiles like pythons, land turtles, king cobras are also seen here as they get washed down by floods and survive by climbing up these small dry patches in the middle of the river. Local fauna like mongoose, porcupine, jungle cat, civet cats, hare are also seen here. The thick knee or stone curlew a ground dwelling bird with prominent circular eyes is seen in large numbers in these open scrub land.