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Odisha: Croc Census At Bhitarkanika From Tomorrow, Entry Restricted 

Kendrapara: The Bhitarkanika National Park will remain out of bounds for nine days from tomorrow due to the annual headcount of estuarine crocodiles. The exercise will continue till January 23, officials said.

The Forest Department has engaged 22 teams for the census drive. The officials will carry out headcount of the crocodiles in the creeks, nullahs and rivers in the park and its nearby areas.

The national park’s closure during the period will ensure the smooth and human interference-free census operation. Any form of human activity would come in the way of the meticulous census of these reptiles. That’s why the curb on tourists’ footfall has been imposed, said Bikash Ranjan Dash, Divisional Forest Officer, Bhitarkanika Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division.

Bhitarkanika is home to 70 per cent of India’s estuarine crocodile or saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started way back in 1975.  As per the latest census, the number of saltwater crocodiles in Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary is estimated to be 1,757, Dash said.

These rare species are not found in any other river system in Odisha, officials said. Adequate conservation measures by the state forest department have led to a systematic rise in the number of these reptiles over the years.

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