KENDRAPARA: A 36-year-old woman of Barakolikhola village in Kendrapara district was grievously injured on Sunday after she was attacked by a saltwater crocodile while she was catching crabs along with other villagers at Kharinashi creek within Mahakalapada forest range near Bhitarkanika National Park.
The crocodile tried to drag the victim Mani Dhaudia into deep water. However, a group of women, who were near the river, raised an alarm and rescued the woman.
“We attacked the reptile with our utensils and the crocodile lost its grip and failed to drag Mani into deep water”, said Sagarika Mandal, a village woman.The woman has sustained multiple lacerations and wounds on both her legs. At present, she is undergoing treatment at Community Health Centre (CHC) at Mahakalapada. “We provided her first aid immediately and stitched all the wounds. She is out of danger,” hospital sources said.
“This incident occurred outside the national park limits. The State Forest department would bear the cost of treatment of the injured woman following the crocodile attack,” said Divisional Forest Officer of Bhitarkanika National Park Bimal Prasanna Acharya.
It may be recalled that body of Sarat Mallick, a 52-year-old farmer half-eaten by saltwater crocodile, was found in the Brahmani river near the park on July 1 this year. On June 30 this year, Babaji Sethi (52) of Benapala village was grievously injured by an estuarine crocodile while he was fishing in the Brahmani river.
“We warned riverside villagers many times not to enter the rivers, creeks and other water bodies of Bhitarkanika and its nearby areas as the areas are infested with about 1,700 ferocious estuarine crocodiles. Around 60 crocodiles live in the water bodies of Mahakalapada forest range. The forest officials also erected barricades in about 35 ponds and river ghats in the park and its nearby areas to prevent the crocodiles from attacking human beings”, added the forest officer.
The correct figure on crocodile attacks is unavailable in the Forest department. But locals believe that at least six to 10 persons are killed or maimed by crocodiles each year. “Most of the cases are not reported, people just go missing,” said Arjun Haldar of Kharinashi village, one of the worst-hit areas.