KENDRAPARA: The Forest Department re-opened the Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district on Monday for tourists after a 12-day ban from January 1.
DFO of the park, Kedar Kumar Swain informed that restrictions were imposed on the visitors to prevent noise pollution during counting of the reptiles and avian species in the national park. The peak winter exposes more than 50 per cent of mud bank and lunar cycle is suitable period for counting of the reptiles, he added.
The head count drive of the endangered estuarine crocodiles was conducted under the supervision of wildlife personnel.
The enumerators assisted by trained local forest staff and some herpetologists including noted crocodile researcher Dr Sudhakar Kar of State Wildlife Department covered Bhitarkanika river system besides innumerable creeks, water inlets and nullahs, said the forest officer. The teams are compiling the census report and it will be released on Thursday.
While the number of estuarine crocodiles in 2012-13 was 1649, it has come down to 1644 in 2013-14. Besides, the number of migratory birds which was 81,401 in 2012-13, has drastically come down to 68,514 in 2013-14. In 1974, the Ministry of Forest and Environment in a collaboration with UNDP had started a crocodile breeding and rearing project in Dangamal within the Bhitarkanika park.
The crocodile population started increasing in the creeks, river and other water bodies within the park and in areas nearby due to success of the project.