Digapahandi: The annual crocodile census at the Ghodahada Dam reservoir in Ganjam district ended Friday.
At least 58 adult crocodiles and many baby crocodiles were spotted by the enumerators in the reservoir. The number was decided after counting by crocodile experts, including Digapahandi forest division staff and researchers. The reservoir was divided into 10 sectors and each sector had a census team led by a senior forest official.
While 43 crocodiles were spotted at Ghodahada Dam, 15 alligators were found in 10 ponds in nearby villages, said Ranger Paramananda Panigrahi.
Additional Conservator of Forests Santosh Kumar Banchuri, Regional Assistant Conservator of Forests Ashok Kumar Behera and Wildlife expert Subrat Kumar were present during the census.
Earlier, the census was being done biennially, but forest officials have now decided to do it annually. The reservoir which has an area of around five square km borders Ganjam and Gajapati districts.
The area was kept out of bounds for tourists and manual boats were used during the census to avoid disturbance. Crocodile censuses are conducted during winter as the reptiles come out of the water to bask in the sun at that time.
The history of Ghodahada Dam goes back to the 1970s. The reservoir was part of a medium irrigation project on Ghodahada River. The 1,780-metre deep and 106.80 metre high reservoir was commissioned in 1967 and took around 15 years to complete.
During the British period, zamindar families used to keep mugger crocodiles in a large tank near the Ujaleswar Temple campus near Ghodahada. It is believed that the crocodiles entered the reservoir when the tank overflowed during monsoons. The muggers bred and increased in numbers during the last few decades.