Bhitarkanika Counting final

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Bhitarkanika habitat counting: rise in the number of mammals and reptiles

Bhitarkanika home of crocodiles and known of having one of world’s largest nesting and breeding congregation of Olive Ridley Sea turtles is a nature lovers’ paradise. The Mangrove wetlands including mudflats provide and ideal feeding, perching and nesting facilities to a variety of resident and migratory waterfowl.

Bhitarkanika is one such location of rich, lush green vibrant eco-system lying in the estuarine region of Brahmani- Baitarani in the North-Eastern corner of Kendrapara district of Odisha. The area is intersected by a network of creeks with Bay of Bengal on the East.

‘Bhitarkanika’ the marshy wetland mangrove ecosystem recently completed counting of its habitat. The headcount of mammals and reptiles inhabiting in the mangrove cover and wetland sites of Bhitarkanika national park has been conducted for the third successive year, and reports suggest that, there has been a significant rise in the number of mammals and reptiles in the sanctuary.

The rise in the number of mammals and reptiles in the sanctuary is not only a good news for the state government and officials but also for tourists across the globe. Officials are hopeful, that this would increase the footfall of tourists from across the globe.

The Sanctuary comprises of Mangrove Forests, meandering rivers, innumerable criss-crossed tidal inundated creeks provide last refuge to the already endangered salt water crocodile (Crocodile porosus) which is the flagship species. Besides estuarine crocodile, the Sanctuary is also rich in avifauna, mammalian and reptilian population. Theses Mangrove forests are good habitat for King Cobra, Indian Python and Water Monitor Lizard. A large number of water birds visit Bagagahan heronry and Mathadia hornry spreading over an area of approximately 08 hectare within the Bhitarkanika Forest Block near Suajore creek from the month of June to October.

Officials collected records and details of spotted deer, wild boars and hyenas to assess the numerical growth pattern of these animals living within the wetland and mangroves of this Ramsar international wetland site. Home to at least 1,671 salt water (estuarine) crocodiles, including three reptiles measuring more than 20ft, the park is sure to attract both domestic and foreign tourists.

According to records, there has been a rise in the number of mammals and reptiles in the sanctuary. For the past three years, officials have been carrying out census headcount of on the basis of footmarks. Similarly, counting of crocodiles, winter migrant avian species, monsoonal migrant water birds was also carried out to ascertain the exact figure and their growth.

The rich and lush-green mangrove forest has proved to be an ideal habitat of mammals and reptiles, and this is one of the major reasons behind the growth of the habitats. Besides, lack of human interference has also been advantageous for their rising numbers.

For observations made in 2015, Bhitarkanika wildlife sanctuary has registered a 32 per cent increase in the population of mammals. As many as 5,119 spotted deer and wild boars were spotted at the national park.

Reports states that, Bhitarkanika is home to nearly 1,200 species, including monkeys, hyenas, jackals and fishing cats. The census of 2014 stated presence of 4,740 mammals inside the national park. The figure had jumped to 6,253 in 2015.

With the growth of habitats in the sanctuary, officials are hopeful that this would attract more tourists and turnout to be a nature lovers’ paradise.

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