KENDRAPARA: Forest officials on Saturday began a two-day crocodile census in Bhitarkanika National Park and its nearby areas. Noted herpetologist and former wildlife researcher Dr Sudhakar Kar said around 80 officials were trained on the method of crocodile counting at Dangamala within the park for the purpose. The enumerators will use GPS to map the exact location of the reptiles during the census.
Forest guards, environmentalists and locals have been engaged to help enumerators in the process, added Dr Kar.“We will also use photographic interpretation through digital cameras with the exact date and time of locations of the reptiles during the census. The researchers will use the pictures to measure the length and age of the crocodiles,” he said.
The enumerators are counting the reptiles by sighting those in various creeks and rivers during day and night. The night counting gives a better result of hatchlings and yearlings. The crocodiles are classified into different categories like yearlings, juveniles, sub-adults and adults as per age gradation, he added.
Last year, the official crocodile count was 1,698 and the forest officers are expecting the count to improve this year. A week-long ban on the entry of tourists into Bhitarkanika has already been imposed from January 6 to 14 in view of annual census of the salt water crocodiles, said Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) of Bhitarkanika Bimal Prasanna Acharya.