Kendrapara: The authorities have postponed the first edition of the Bhitarkanika Mahotsav by a week in view of the adverse weather condition prevailing in coastal areas of the state. The Met department has also predicted spells of rain in some areas. The three-day festival which was scheduled to begin February 7 will now begin February 14.
The inaugural edition of the festival will showcase the rich biodiversities, flora and fauna of the internationally acclaimed Ramsar wetland site in Odisha, officials said.
Nalitapatia village, lying on the fringes of the core area of the national park, will play host to the festival, said Bikash Ranjan Dash, Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division.
The objective of the three-day festival is to provide the much-needed exposure to the national park so that there will be a substantial increase of tourists, both international and domestic, he said.
With increased inflow of tourists, the tourism potential of the place will be explored and people living along the villages on the periphery of the national park will reap economic benefits out of it, the DFO said.
Bhitarakanika is one of the best natural abodes for estuarine crocodiles and is said to house 70 per cent of Indias estuarine crocodile or saltwater crocodiles, conservation of which was started way back in 1975.
The crocodile population in Bhitarakanika is estimated to be 1,698 as per the latest census.
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 and reptiles.
The reptiles found in the park 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 at elevated threat of extinction in the world, in Bhitarakanika, officials said.
Mangroves are regarded as natural barriers against the tidal surge and cyclones. Because of its rich mangrove cover, cyclonic storms from time to time have failed to make inroads into the wetland sites, they said.