Odisha park turns into croc maternity ward

Egg-Cellent News: Visitors barred as 103 saltwater crocodile nests found

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Odisha park turns into croc maternity ward
The bull makes a nest out of twigs and leaves near the riverbank. The eggs take 75 days to hatch


Odisha Forest officials have halted the entry of tourists to a section in Bhitarkanika National Park for the safety of crocodile hatchlings. A total of 103 saltwater crocodile nests have been spotted in the area, two more than the 101 nests were found by the wildlife department last year.

This year, nine nests have been found in the Rajnagar Range, two in Mahakalpada Range, one in Gahir Matha Range, and 91 in Kanika Range. Though the mating season broadly starts off in July and continues for three weeks in the national park, say forest officials, but it is not unusual to find nests this early.

The female crocodile scouts for the perfect nesting place around five meters away from the river bank to lay eggs. After she zeroes in on the location, the male crocodile constructs a nest about four feet above the ground using mangrove twigs, leaves and mud and the female lays the eggs.

Each crocodile can lay around 40 to 50 eggs and it takes 75 days for each one of them to hatch.

For safety of the hatchlings and the parents, and also the visitors, forest department banned the tourist entry to the park till July 31. "In mating and nesting season, crocodile turn very aggressive because of their maternal and competitive nature, and can attack people. To prevent human-crocodile conflict, we decided to keep it shut," said an official from Odisha forest and wildlife department.

The Forest department has barricaded around 40 river ghats or steps leading into the rivers near the Bhitarkanika National Park. The department has also asked villagers living near the river to alert them if they spot any crocodile outside the park. According to the crocodile census report of 2019, 1,742 saltwater crocodiles call Bhitarakanika National Park home.

—Zee Media Newsroom

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