Bhitarkanika to remain closed from Jan 8 for wildlife census

Rajnagar: The Forest department has decided to ban the entry of tourists and visitors to the Bhitarkanika National Park from January on account of the census of saltwater crocodiles and birds in the sanctuary.

“There will be no movement of tourists and ferrying of boats in and around the Park periphery during the census which will conclude on January 17,” Bimal Prasanna Acharya, DFO of Rajnagar Wildlife Division, informed.

The DFO said the Forest department will engage 17 teams for the census work. “The census of the saltwater crocodiles would be done in Rajnagar, Dangamal, Gahirmatha and Mahakalapada ranges under the park jurisdiction while the bird census would be conducted in Mathabadia, Kalibhanjadia, Bagagahana, Satabhaya and Gahirmatha,” he said.

As per last year’s census, the total number of saltwater crocodiles found in the rivers, creeks, estuaries, accumulated land and backwaters in the Park was 1665. “We hope there would be a rise in their number this year,” Acharya said.

He also said a total of 1,13,226 migratory birds were sighted at different locations inside the park last year, which was higher than the number in the census conducted in 2013,” he added.

Notably, the Park is home to over 215 species of birds, including winter migratory birds from Europe and Central Asia.

It is the second largest viable mangrove eco system in India having more than 71 species of mangroves and its associates.