Kendrapara: The severe cyclonic storm Fani has left its trail of destruction in the famous Bhitarkanika National Park. The gusty wind and the high tide during the storm eroded a portion of beach on northern side of Nasi-II which has been a favourite nesting ground of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles within Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary.
The unmanned Habelikhati Island in Bhitarkanika, a favourite eco-tourism destination, has been also ravaged by mighty tidal waves during cyclone Fani, forest officials said.
Cyclone Fani that made landfall near Puri May 3, however, spared the rest sheds for tourists on the island, they said.
But a day later, May 4, 10-ft high tidal waves shattered the island, divisional forest officer of Rajnagar mangrove (wildlife) forest division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya, said.
Four guesthouses located near the sea bore the brunt of the furious tidal waves.
The eco-tourism complex was further damaged with cracks developing in the structures under the impact of the marauding sea waves, Acharya said.
The rest sheds for tourists have been shut down owing to safety reasons.
As the warning was sounded on the cyclone and possible ingress of tidal waves, the forest employees on duty were asked to vacate the island.
Most of the green cover has also been wiped out by the tidal waves, the official added.
Habelikhati Island is an unmanned territory in the Bay of Bengal off Odisha coast.
The gorgeous beach of the island has emerged as a nesting ground of the endangered Olive Ridley sea turtles.
One could come across the breathtaking sight of turtles invading the beach en masse to lay eggs by digging pits with their rear flippers.
The turtles could be sighted at the place during February-March when the creatures turn up for their annual sojourn, the DFO said.
Besides, the island is also an ideal spot for sighting Gangetic dolphins.
The green cover bordering the island is home to wild boars, jungle cats, fishing cats, hyenas, sambar, striped palm squirrel and water monitors, the wildlife official said.
According to Subrat Kumar Patra, ACF-cum-ranger of Kanika forest range, the cyclonic storm has damaged a couple of wooden jetties set up for tourists. Though the wildlife population has not been affected, several old trees located at Dangamala were uprooted, Patra added.