Ban on entry of visitors to Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha from May 1

Many locals illegally enter the forest areas to collect honey and wood, thereby disturbing the reptiles.
Baby saltwater crocodiles.
Baby saltwater crocodiles. (Photo | Wikimedia Commons)

KENDRAPARA: The three-month ban on entry of tourists and visitors to Bhitarkanika National Park during the mating season of saltwater crocodiles will come into force from Wednesday.

The ban will be effective till July 31. Assistant conservator of forests (ACF), Bhitarkanika Manas Das said the restriction is being imposed to ensure that the estuarine crocodiles are not disturbed during their breeding season by visitors.

Besides, the sound of the mechanised boats carrying tourists and forest officials also disturb the crocodiles. “Once the reptiles get disturbed during nesting, they become more violent and majority of the crocodile attack incidents occur during the breeding season,” said the ACF.

Many locals illegally enter the forest areas to collect honey and wood, thereby disturbing the reptiles. To prevent the entry of villagers, the department has restricted the movement of humans in the forest areas. Das said the female crocodiles lay eggs inside mangrove forests near water bodies of the park and guard the eggs till the emergence of hatchlings. Forest guards have been directed to keep watch on the movements of mother crocodiles.

The nests are usually prepared with mangrove twigs, leaves and mud on high grounds which cannot be inundated during high tide and flood besides facilitating exposure to direct sunlight. A female crocodile lays 50 to 60 eggs in a nest, informed noted crocodile researcher Sudhakar Kar.

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