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Crocodile nests decrease in Bhitarkanika Park

Wildlife personnel have spotted 84 crocodile nests during the breeding season this year as compared to 103 in 2020.

Published: 20th July 2021 08:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th July 2021 08:44 AM   |  A+A-

Crocodile

For representational purposes (Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

KENDRAPARA: The number of nesting sites of estuarine crocodiles has come down in Bhitarkanika National Park due to the impact of cyclone Yaas which hit the State coast in May this year.

Wildlife personnel have spotted 84 crocodile nests during the breeding season this year as compared to 103 in 2020.

Divisional forest officer (DFO) of Bhitarkanika JD Pati attributed the decrease to inundation of many crocodile nests by high tides during the cyclone.

“The nests are usually made in areas on high ground in the months of May and June so that these are not inundated during the rainy season and can get direct sunlight. But the rising water level due to tidal waves during cyclone Yaas damaged many nests,” the DFO informed.

Pati further said apart from guarding the eggs from predators like jackals, wild dogs, fishing cats, vultures, water monitors and other animals, the female reptiles cover the nests with leaves to prevent ingress of rainwater during the monsoon.

However, the storm surge and tidal ingress flooded the nests. Sources said torrential rain and tidal waves induced by cyclonic storm Yaas inundated low-lying areas of Bhitarkanika, particularly in Ragarapatia and Dangamala forest blocks where many crocodiles laid eggs. 

A female crocodile lays 40 to 70 eggs in a nest. Out of 500 eggs in the wild, only one turns adult. As per the crocodile census report in January 2021, the water bodies of Bhitarkanika are home to 1,768 saltwater reptiles. In view of the mating season of crocodiles, the Forest department has banned entry of outsiders into Bhitarkanika from May 1 to July 31.

Wildlife researcher Sudhakar Kar said the decrease in number of nesting sites would not hamper the crocodile population of Bhitarkanika but reduce the numbers of hatchlings to some extent.



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