Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Bhitarkanika NP
Mains level: Conservation of biodiversity
- 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.