KENDRAPARA: The Forest department has imposed a three-month ban on entry of tourists and visitors to Bhitarkanika National Park to provide a congenial atmosphere to the saltwater crocodiles during their mating and nesting season.
The ban will be effective from May 1 and continue till July 31. Tourists and locals will be prohibited from entering the park as the estuarine crocodiles might get disturbed during their breeding season by intrusion of visitors, said divisional forest officer (DFO) of Bhitarkanika Bikash Chandra Dash on Thursday.
Bhitarkanika, Dangamala and Ragadapati forests have the highest concentration of crocodiles. The sound of mechanised boats carrying tourists and forest officials disturb the crocodiles. Once the reptiles are disturbed, they become violent. Most of the crocodile attacks take place during the nesting season, Dash informed.
The female reptiles lay eggs near water bodies inside the mangrove forest and guard the eggs till the hatchlings emerge. Forest guards have been instructed to keep a watch on the eggs and protect those from snakes, wild boars and fishing cats. The guards will also monitor the movements of mother crocodiles.
Many local forest dwellers illegally enter the forest areas to collect honey and wood. Their entry to forest areas has also been restricted. Last year, as many as 103 nesting sites of crocodiles were spotted at the creeks, nullahs and river systems in Bhitarkanika. As per the census carried out in January 2020, there are 1,768 saltwater crocodiles in Bhitarkanika river system.