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Pradeep Pattanayak

As many as 32 gharial crocodile hatchlings are feared to have been washed away from Satkosia gorge in the Mahanadi River floodwater, giving rise to concern about their safety among wildlife enthusiasts, environmentalists and locals. 

Satkosia gorge on the Mahanadi River located near Tikarpada in Angul district is the natural habitat for gharial crocodiles. 
In May, as many as 32 gharial crocodile hatchlings took birth in the gorge. Now, it is feared that all of these baby crocodiles might have been swept away in the Mahanadi floodwater. 

Gharial is one of the endangered freshwater crocodile species.  

The incident has triggered concern among wildlife lovers, environmentalists and local people. They are of the opinion that the hatchlings are in danger. 

If the population of gharial crocodile is not increasing, it is solely because of lacunae in the management, pollution of river water, climate change and floodwater, opined the environmentalists. 

“The gharial hatchlings took birth in May. Now, there is no whereabouts of them. They must have been washed away in the floodwater. The same thing had happened to the hatchlings last year as well. It suggests that the authorities are not taking proper steps for their safety,” said an environmentalist, Biswaranjan Pattanayak. 

Notably, 28 gharial hatchlings were swept away in the floodwater last year.     

When contacted, Satkosia DFO Saroj Panda said, “The purpose of the Gharial Recovery Project is to make them acquainted with the nature whereby they can survive. This is why we rarely intervene.”

“There is no denying that some of the hatchlings might have been swept away in the floodwater. Now, there is floodwater everywhere. A search operation for them would be launched once the flood situation improves. After their rescue, they would be released in their natural habitat,” Panda added. 

Offering suggestions, a local resident Binod Samal said, “If the authorities take preventive measures like taking them to an enclosure before the flood, they can be saved, their population can increase and Angul district can be one of the best tourist destinations in the world.”

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