Odishatv Bureau

Kendrapara: The annual mammal count in the mangrove cover and wetland sites of Bhitarkanika National Park registered over 16 percent rise during 2016-17.

This year as many as 7129 mammals have been spotted in the national park which comprises core area of 145 square kilometre of the Bhitarkanika Wild Sanctuary, along with mangrove cover, Gahirmatha Beach and Marine Sanctuary. Last year the count stood at 6122.

According to Rajnagar Divisional Forest Officer, Bimal Prasanna Acharya, the mammal census was carried out in five forest ranges - Kanika, Rajnagar, Mahakalapada, Gahirmatha and Kujanga wildlife Range over a period of three days from November 21.

Deer and boars apart, the national park is home to nearly 1200 species of mammals.

The census break up revealed that as many as 3184 Chittals (spotted deer), 1660 wild pigs (boar), 1819 Rhesus Macaques, 15 Common Langurs, 224 jackals , 28 fishing cats , 8 Hyenas, 113 Otters, 14 jungle cats, 14 mongooses, 28 foxes, 16 Hares, 2 leopard cats,4 porcupines have been spotted within the national park. The population of wild pigs and monkeys has increased during the last year, however the number of deer and hyenas has dropped in comparison to last year's figures, the survey report stated.

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The survey reports also showed that a majority of the mammals were sighted in Kanika Wildlife Range. While Hares and Foxes were spotted only at Kujanga forest, mammals like Leopard and Porcupines were found only under Kanika Wildlife Range.

This is the fourth successive year of the annual count being carried out in the national park.