Bhitarkanika national park to remain closed till July 31

Kendrapara: The Bhitarkanika National Park and Wildlife Sanctuary situated in Kendrapara district will remain closed from today till July 31, informed Rajnagar Forest Department through a notification.

The national park which is the natural habitat of crocodiles, remains closed for a period of 3 months every year as the salt water (Baula) crocodiles go through mating process during this season.

As the reptiles turn violent in this period, authorities close down the sanctuary for a brief period to ensure the safety of tourists.

“The park and sanctuary will remain closed from May 1 to July 31 due to the mating season of Baula crocodiles. We request the tourists to not book any trips to the sanctuary during this period,” said Additional Conservator of Rajnagar Forest Department, Amaresh Pradhan.

Crocodiles stray from their habitats into water bodies in and around human settlements and man-crocodile conflict often reaches a flashpoint in peripheral villages of Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary during this period, informed Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya.

Bhitarkanika is said to house 70 per cent of India’s estuarine or saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started way back in 1975.

According to Bhitarakanika National Park authorities, mammals found in the place are leopard, wild boar, jungle cat, fishing cat, hyena, sambar, striped palm squirrel, gangetic dolphin while reptiles found comprise turtles including Olive Ridley sea turtle, crocodile, lizard, water monitors, python, and king cobra. Around 166 species of birds have been spotted in the park.

Bhitarakanika is one of the richest storehouses of mangrove genes. Researchers have come across 11 of the 70 mangrove species, which were facing threat of extinction in the world, in Bhitarakanika.

(With PTI inputs)