Fisherman dies in crocodile attack

Kendrapara: In a fresh incident of man-crocodile conflict, an estuarine crocodile killed a fisherman on Wednesday in a hamlet near the Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary, sparking off tension in the far-flung area.

The victim was identified as Sunakar Majhi (40), a local fisherman.

Forest and revenue officials flanked by policemen have rushed to the village, about 75 km from here, as the people are agitated over the frequent attack on humans. "An adult crocodile pounced on Majhi while he was fishing in Baitarani river near Raghudevipur village, a peripheral village of the sanctuary. Locals have retrieved the body. Officials have rushed to the spot to take stock of the situation," said Manoj Kumar Mahapatra, divisional forest officer at Rajnagar mangrove (wildlife) forest division.

The incident occurred outside the wildlife sanctuary limits but the deceased fisherman`s family would be covered under compensation, he said.

This year the government has disbursed ex-gratia to families of three victims killed by estuarine crocodile. There were reports of three other human causalities, but those cases did not merit consideration for compensation as the victims had committed offense of trespassing into national park water bodies for fishing and collecting fuel-woods, Mohapatra said.

There are official reports of saltwater crocodiles from Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary straying into Brahmani, Baitarani, Petashala and Kharasrota rivers.

Lethal assault by the reptiles and consequent retaliatory attack by men, has become a regular feature in this part of the state.

The conflict and consequent loss of human lives are most frequently recorded during the monsoon and winter months, the nesting season of the estuarine crocodiles, officials said.