Marginal rise in crocodile nestings in Odisha’s Bhitarkanika

Kendrapara: Bhitarkanika National Park has recorded a slight increase in the number of saltwater crocodile nests this season.

Rajnagar Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Bimal Prasanna Acharya on Tuesday informed that as many as 103 nests were spotted in the national park during the annual counting process this year as compared to last year’s figure of 101 nests.

“A total of 103 crocodile nests have been spotted during the enumeration. As many as 91 nests of crocodiles were found in Kanika range, 9 were spotted in Rajnagar forest range while 2 in Mahakalpara range and 1 nest was spotted in Gahirmatha range,” Acharya said.

Bhitarkanika is home to as many as 1,698 salt water crocodiles, as per the census carried out in January this year.

Every year, between May 1 and July 31, the national park stays out of bounds of tourists as the authorities close it to facilitate mating and breeding of crocodiles.

According to wildlife experts, a single female crocodile can lay up to 40 to 60 eggs that incubate for 80 and 90 days. Around 40-50 per cent hatchlings manage to come out of each nest as few hatchlings survive this high-risk stage when many predators, including the monitor lizards, fishing cats, jackals, kites, big fishes etc feast on the baby crocodiles after they emerge from the egg shells.