Kendrapara: Tourists shall be forbidden from entering Bhitarkanika National Park (BNP) to facilitate headcount of Estuarine crocodile beginning December 26 to January 4.
The Park will be closed to tourists for 10 days, said Rajnagar Mangrove Forest and Wildlife DFO Bikash Ranjan Dash.
This is being done to prevent disturbance due to noise interfering with the tranquil atmosphere required to count Estuarine crocodile, said Dash.
The census of saltwater crocodile will be supervised by wildlife personnel, experts and crocodile researchers. The enumerators, to be assisted by trained forest staff, will cover the Bhitarkanika river system besides creeks, inlets and nullahs where the reptiles rest to take up their census.
The crocodiles, which are amphibious in nature, can be counted directly while they bask on land and riverbed, or while being afloat. It is easier to count crocodiles basking on land especially in the daytime. Their size and breed can be estimated easily and accurately at daytime. Crocodiles less than 6 ft in length, floating or resting on land can be measured by using a spotlight and focusing on reflected ‘‘ruby red’’ glow from their eyes. However, only a portion of crocodiles will be visible at any particular time, while others remain submerged in water.
The day-and-night census will be monitored by technical experts, deputed from Wildlife Headquarters, said the DFO.
Notably, Forest personnel will join teams of enumerators accompanied by wildlife personnel, crocodile experts and researchers who will be divided into segments such as creeks, rivers in and outside Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary and Mahanadi Deltaic region to conduct census of estuarine crocodile. As many as 1,742 Estuarine crocodiles, including four reptiles measuring more than 20 ft, were sighted in and outside the water bodies of Rajnagar Mangrove Forest Division in the census held last year, said official sources.