KENDRAPARA: The body of a 45-year-old farmer, half-eaten by a saltwater crocodile, has been found in the Baitarani river at Mandapada village near Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district on Monday.
The body of Sanjay Pradhan (52) of Mandapada village is replete with crocodile bites. Sanjay is the latest victim in a growing number of crocodile attacks in the riverside villages adjoining the national park. Many locals, forest guards and fire brigade personnel launched a search on Sunday after he was dragged away by a crocodile while he was taking bath.
It was the fifth deadly crocodile attack in near Bhitarkanika within past 12 months.
On April 18, 2019, Banamali Mohanty (52) of Bajarapur village was killed by a crocodile. Sarat Mallick (52) of Srirampur village was also killed in a crocodile attack in July 2018. Bijaya Patra (43) of Dinari village and Srikant Sethi (14) of Diapari village also fell victims to crocodile attacks in the same year.
The attacks by the reptiles are reported sporadically in the areas of Aul, Rajnagar, Mahakalapada adjoining Bhitarkanika in the recent past.
Many residents have reported seeing an unusual number of saltwater crocodiles as the reptiles strayed into the rivers from the water bodies of Bhitarkanika. "The fate of large numbers of river-side villagers, who eke out their livelihoods by fishing in the rivers, is now at stake," said one Subharnshu Sutar of Rajkanika.
"The forest department will provide Rs 4 lakh as compensation to the family members of the crocodile attack victim. We have advised residents of the riverside villages not to enter into the water as the reptiles might move upstream for laying eggs during the breeding season. We do not think crocodiles are a risk to public safety if people keep out of the water. But if people enter the water their safety cannot be guaranteed, said Bimal Prasan Acharya the divisional forest officer (DFO) of the park.
The water bodies of Bhitarakanika is the home of 1742 crocodiles as per the this year's census report.