Cassian Baliarsingh

The Ghodahada reservoir and its adjoining water bodies in Ganjam district registered a rise in the mugger crocodile population, revealed a recently-concluded census report. The Ghodahada reservoir is one of the potential habitats for muggers after Satkosia and Similipal.

There has been a rise in the population of muggers as compared to last year, revealed the census which was conducted recently by the Forest Department through the direct-sight method.

As per the census, there are around 64 crocodiles in the Ghodahada reservoir while another 17 were found in the adjoining water bodies, taking it to a total of 81.

While there were only 76 muggers in the 5-sq-km water reservoir last year, it has increased to 81 this year.  Improvement of the habitats in the reservoir and the water bodies is said to be the main reason behind the rise in the number of crocodiles. On the other hand, locals also play an active role in ensuring the protection of the muggers.

The mugger is one of the three crocodile species found in Odisha other than gharial and saltwater crocodiles. The muggers of Ghodahada reservoir have never harmed any villagers or domestic animals. Muggers are less ferocious than other crocodile breeds.

Similarly, people in this area are mostly fishermen and involved in pisciculture in the reservoir. They are also involved in the conservation of muggers. Fisherfolk consider the sighting of the mugger a harbinger for them and therefore do not cause any harm to the crocodiles. The census of crocodiles in Ghodahada reservoir began on December 6.

Forest officials conducted the census for two days and it finally concluded on December 8. Meanwhile, the crocodile census began at Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district today. Two teams comprising 4-5 officials each are carrying out the headcount exercise in four ranges.