KENDRAPARA:Flooding in riverside villages of Rajnagar, Aul, Pattamundai and Rajkanika blocks around Bhitarkanika National Park in the district has prompted a warning about crocodiles with several of the reptiles spotted in swollen waterways.
As per reports, many crocodiles have been swept into marooned villages by floodwater. Residents have reported seeing more saltwater crocodiles than usual as the reptiles strayed into rivers from water bodies of Bhitarkanika in the flood. Bhitarkanika is home to more than 1,700 saltwater crocodiles.
Saltwater crocodiles have been spotted in the marooned villages of Chandanapur, Rahapur, Ostia, Nagad, Bandhapatana, Naladia and Srirampur after the reptiles strayed into Brahmani, Kharasrota and Kani rivers from the water bodies of the national park.
DFO of the park Bimal Prasanna Acharya said, ‘’Wading through flooded areas can be dangerous as crocodiles may lurk in the water. We have advised residents of the flooded Aul, Rajnagar, Rajkanika and Pattamundai villages to remain on the lookout for the reptiles which may move into residential areas in the flood water.’’ He further informed that crocodiles could easily be mistaken for floating debris. The Forest department has been keeping a wary eye on the crocodiles in flood-hit areas. ‘’So far, there have been no reports of crocodiles injuring any people,” the DFO said.
Last year, the Forest department had barricaded around 28 ghats in the riverside villages near the national park to prevent the crocodiles from entering the bathing areas in the rivers. But the flood has washed away many barricades. ‘’After the floodwater recedes, we will rebuild the barricades,’’ Acharya added.
On Monday, one Rabindra Nayak of Ostia village under Rajnagar block was fording the floodwater to collect relief materials when he discovered a six-foot long crocodile swimming towards him. Luckily, some villagers scared away the reptile by throwing stones at it after hearing the screams of Rabindra, who managed to reach the embankment safely. On the other hand, a cow was killed by a crocodile in Srirampur village on Monday.
Noted environmentalist and president of Marine Turtle and Mangrove Conservation Society Hemant Rout said the habitats and feeding grounds of the crocodiles have been marooned as a result of which the hungry reptiles are roaming in flood-hit areas.