Census of Estuarine Crocodiles

Why in news?

  • The number of crocodiles rose to 1742 from last year’s census of 1698 in the Bhitarkanika National Park in Odisha’s Kendrapara district.

Census of Estuarine Crocodiles:

  • The latest census figure of these reptiles, which was released by forest department, has come out with an encouraging trend of rise in the number of estuarine crocodiles. The census of estuarine or saltwater crocodiles was carried out along the water-bodies of Mahanadi deltaic region in and around the Bhitarkanika National Park between Thursday and Monday.
  • The enumerators sighted 619 hatchlings, 347 yearlings, 273 juveniles, 178 sub-adults and 325 adults, according to the census report.
  • The giants included a 21 feet long croc which finds a pride of place in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s largest living crocodile, he said.
  • Four decades ago when the Govt. of India and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had thought of saving crocodiles in Bhitarkanika area.
  • The population was then estimated to be 95, including 34 adult but now, it stands to 1742.
  • Since 1977, salt-water crocodile eggs have also been collected locally, and young crocodiles have been released in the creeks and the estuaries.

Estuarine crocodiles in India:

  • Estuarine crocodiles are also found in West Bengal’s Sunderbans, having the country’s largest mangrove cover.
  • The mangrove wetlands in Andaman Islands are also home to these species, but those cannot match the density and population of crocodile available in wild habitats of Bhitarkanika.
  • The region is criss-crossed by innumerable water inlets, creeks and nullahs all forming the part of Bhitarkanika river system.
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