KENDRAPARA:Panic has gripped villages of Kuarapala, Garajanga, Sasanipada, Talasanga, Narayanpur and Parakula under Marsaghai block in the district after locals spotted crocodiles in Chitroptala river recently.
“Villagers are on high alert after they sighted about five crocodiles in Chitroptala river. We are afraid of bathing in the river,” said Saroj Panda (56) of Parakula village.
Echoing similar concerns, Madhusudan Samal of Sasinipada village said, “We are living in fear after spotting a crocodile in the river near Sasanipada on Sunday.”
Many villagers believe that some crocodiles from Bhitarkanika National Park have strayed into the river after rains. Meanwhile, villagers have started sharing pictures of the reptiles on social media. Villagers have also informed the Forest Range Officer of Kendrapara Adhir Kumar Behera about the situation.
“We will engage trained fishermen and forest guards from Bhitarkanika to catch the crocodiles alive as safety of humans and livestock is our top priority. We have also advised the villagers to erect barricades in the river ghats,” Behera said. The forest officials have built around 30 wooden barricades in rivers and ponds around Bhitarkanika to prevent crocodile attacks.
Sighting of crocodiles is not an unusual phenomenon. Last December, forest officials of Bhitarkanika had rescued a 12 feet long crocodile from Luna rivulet at Aitipur village.“Forest officials have been releasing crocodile hatchlings into rivers since 1975 from the breeding centre at Dangamal within the park premises. Meanwhile, the population of crocodiles has increased to 1,682 as per the recent reptile census report of the Forest department. As the reptiles are not getting sufficient food from within the park limits, they are migrating to nearby villages. The estuarine crocodiles often enter rivers and water bodies and kill human beings and cattle,” said Bhaskar Das of Marsaghai.